Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been widely applied in the repair of the knee-joint menisci which have a limited ability to undergo spontaneous repair. The menisci stabilise the knee-joint and are weight-bearing structures subjected to considerable tensional and compressive forces during flexion-extension and torsional loading of the knee. Traumatic loading of the knee-joint menisci can generate a number of lesions in the inner avascular meniscal regions. These have a limited capability of intrinsic repair and predispose the underlying articular cartilages to premature osteoarthritis. A number of strategies have therefore been developed for meniscal repair employing MSCs, bioscaffolds, hydrogels, biological glue cell delivery systems and agents which promote cell proliferation/matrix synthesis. Meniscal implants have also been developed in combination with the above procedures. It is important that meniscal defects be repaired not only to maintain knee-joint stability but also to prevent further degenerative changes in other knee joint tissues. Degenerative menisci contribute degradative proteinases and inflammatory mediators to the total synovial degradative proteinase pool. Partial or total surgical removal of the menisci is not a solution since this leads to premature osteoarthritis. Meniscal integrity needs to be maintained or repair strategies implemented in a timely manner to maintain knee joint function.
Part of the book: Meniscus of the Knee