Tissue-engineered meniscal constructs
The medial and lateral menisci play important roles in knee biomechanics, kinematics, and stability. Unfortunately, these structures are prone to damage and, because of a tenuous blood supply, have great difficulty healing. Many interventions have been proposed for treatment of damaged meniscal tissue, but most surgical options are fraught with difficulties, from continued osteoarthritic degeneration to potential for disease transmission. The field of tissue engineering has made wide inroads into constructing meniscal tissue. Investigations involving collagenous tissue, meniscal fibrochondrocytes, chondrocytes, synthetic scaffolds, and gene therapy have all been reported in the literature. Despite these advances, however, more work needs to be done, including incorporating concepts and applications from other engineering disciplines, to potentiate the possibility of a tissue-engineered meniscus that approximates native tissue. In particular, the histologic, morphologic, and biomechanical properties of tissue-engineered meniscal constructs must be better understood to facilitate this goal.