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  1. Abstract Due to limited intrinsic healing capacity of the meniscus, meniscal injuries pose a significant clinical challenge. The most common method for treatment of damaged meniscal tissues, meniscectomy, leads to improper loading within the knee joint, which can increase the risk of osteoarthritis. Thus, there is a clinical need for the development of constructs for meniscal repair that better replicate meniscal tissue organization to improve load distributions and function over time. Advanced three-dimensional bioprinting technologies such as suspension bath bioprinting provide some key advantages, such as the ability to support the fabrication of complex structures using non-viscous bioinks. In this work, the suspension bath printing process is utilized to print anisotropic constructs with a unique bioink that contains embedded hydrogel fibers that align via shear stresses during printing. Constructs with and without fibers are printed and then cultured for up to 56 d in vitro in a custom clamping system. Printed constructs with fibers demonstrate increased cell and collagen alignment, as well as enhanced tensile moduli when compared to constructs printed without fibers. This work advances the use of biofabrication to develop anisotropic constructs that can be utilized for the repair of meniscal tissue. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 12, 2024
  2. Meniscal tears are associated with a high risk of osteoarthritis but currently have no disease-modifying therapies. Using a Gli1 reporter line, we found that Gli1 + cells contribute to the development of meniscus horns from 2 weeks of age. In adult mice, Gli1 + cells resided at the superficial layer of meniscus and expressed known mesenchymal progenitor markers. In culture, meniscal Gli1 + cells possessed high progenitor activities under the control of Hh signal. Meniscus injury at the anterior horn induced a quick expansion of Gli1-lineage cells. Normally, meniscal tissue healed slowly, leading to cartilage degeneration. Ablation of Gli1 + cells further hindered this repair process. Strikingly, intra-articular injection of Gli1 + meniscal cells or an Hh agonist right after injury accelerated the bridging of the interrupted ends and attenuated signs of osteoarthritis. Taken together, our work identified a novel progenitor population in meniscus and proposes a new treatment for repairing injured meniscus and preventing osteoarthritis. 
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  4. Abstract

    Cells respond to physical cues in their microenvironment. These cues result in changes in cell behavior, some of which are transient, and others of which are permanent. Understanding and leveraging permanent alteration of cell behavior induced by mechanical cues, or “mechanical memories,” is an important aim in cell and tissue engineering. Herein, this paper reviews the existing literature outlining how cells may store memories of biophysical cues with a specific focus on the nucleus, the storehouse of information in eukaryotic cells. In particular, this review details mechanically driven adaptations in nuclear structure and genome organization and outlines potential mechanisms by which mechanical memories may be encoded within the structure and organization of the nucleus and chromatin.

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  5. Abstract

    Fibrous scaffolds fabricated via electrospinning are being explored to repair injuries within dense connective tissues. However, there is still much to be understood regarding the appropriate scaffold properties that best support tissue repair. In this study, the influence of the stiffness of electrospun fibers on cell invasion into fibrous scaffolds is investigated. Specifically, soft and stiff electrospun fibrous networks are fabricated from crosslinked methacrylated hyaluronic acid (MeHA), where the stiffness is altered via the extent of MeHA crosslinking. Meniscal fibrochondrocyte (MFC) adhesion and migration into fibrous networks are investigated, where the softer MeHA fibrous networks are easily deformed and densified through cellular tractions and the stiffer MeHA fibrous networks support ≈50% greater MFC invasion over weeks when placed adjacent to meniscal tissue. When the scaffolds are sandwiched between meniscal tissues and implanted subcutaneously, the stiffer MeHA fibrous networks again support enhanced cellular invasion and greater collagen deposition after 4 weeks when compared to the softer MeHA fibrous networks. These results indicate that the mechanics and deformability of fibrous networks likely alter cellular interactions and invasion, providing an important design parameter toward the engineering of scaffolds for tissue repair.

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