The menisci of the human knee play an important role in maintaining normal functions to provide stability and nutrition to the articular cartilage, and to absorb shock. Once injured, these important structures have very limited natural healing potential. Unfortunately, the traditional arthroscopic meniscectomy performed on these damaged menisci may predispose the joint toward early development of osteoarthritis. Although a very limited number of studies are available, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been investigated as an alternative therapeutic modality to repair human knee meniscal tears. This review summarizes the results of published applications of MSCs in human patients, which showed that the patients who received MSCs (autologous adipose tissue-derived stem cells or culture-expanded bone marrow-derived stem cells) presented symptomatic improvements, along with magnetic resonance imaging evidences of the meniscal repair.
Keywords: adipose tissue-derived stem cells; articular cartilage; bone marrow-derived stem cells; human knee; meniscal tear; therapeutic modality.