Meniscal fibrocartilage regeneration inspired by meniscal maturational and regenerative process
Meniscus is a complex and crucial fibrocartilaginous tissue within the knee joint. Meniscal regeneration remains to be a scientific and translational challenge. We clarified that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) participated in meniscal maturation and regeneration using MSC-tracing transgenic mice model. Here, inspired by meniscal natural maturational and regenerative process, we developed an effective and translational strategy to facilitate meniscal regeneration by three-dimensionally printing biomimetic meniscal scaffold combining autologous synovium transplant, which contained abundant intrinsic MSCs. We verified that this facilitated anisotropic meniscus–like tissue regeneration and protected cartilage from degeneration in large animal model. Mechanistically, the biomechanics and matrix stiffness up-regulated Piezo1 expression, facilitating concerted activation of calcineurin and NFATc1, further activated YAP-pSmad2/3-SOX9 axis, and consequently facilitated fibrochondrogenesis of MSCs during meniscal regeneration. In addition, Piezo1 induced by biomechanics and matrix stiffness up-regulated collagen cross-link enzyme expression, which catalyzed collagen cross-link and thereby enhanced mechanical properties of regenerated tissue.