Three-Dimensional Coculture of Meniscal Cells and Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Collagen Type I Hydrogel on a Small Intestinal Matrix-A Pilot Study Toward Equine Meniscus Tissue Engineering
Meniscal injuries are the most frequently encountered soft tissue injuries in the equine stifle joint. Due to the inherent limited repair potential of meniscal tissue, meniscal injuries do not only affect the meniscus itself but also lead to impaired joint homeostasis and secondary osteoarthritis. The presented study compares 3D co-culture constructs of primary equine mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and meniscus cells (MC) seeded on three different scaffolds-a cell-laden collagen type I hydrogel (Col I gel), a tissue-derived small intestinal matrix scaffold (SIS-muc) and a combination thereof-for their qualification to be applied for meniscus tissue engineering. To investigate cell attachment of primary MC and MSC on SIS-muc matrix SEM pictures were performed. For molecular analysis, lyophilized samples of coculture constructs with different cell ratios (100% MC, 100% MSC, and 50% MC and 50% MSC, 20% MC, and 80% MSC) were digested and analyzed for DNA and GAG content. Active matrix remodeling of 3D coculture models was indicated by matrix metalloproteinases detection. For comparison of tissue-engineered constructs with the histologic architecture of natural equine menisci, paired lateral and medial menisci of 15 horses representing different age groups were examined. A meniscus phenotype with promising similarity to native meniscus tissue in its GAG/DNA expression in addition to Col I, Col II, and Aggrecan production was achieved using a scaffold composed of Col I gel on SISmuc combined with a coculture of MC and MSC. The results encourage further development of this scaffoldcell combination for meniscus tissue engineering.