(Dr. Marc Levenston, advisor)
"In Vitro Modulation of Meniscus Biosynthesis: A Basis for Understanding Cellular Response to Physiologically Relevant Stimuli"
The meniscus is a soft, fibrocartilaginous tissue that is critical for the maintenance of normal knee biomechanics. The adult tissue is highly avascular, lending itself to a poor autonomous repair capacity in response to injury. Tears of the meniscus are the predominant form of injury to the soft tissue and can result in the need for surgical intervention or meniscectomy to remove the tear and in severe cases the whole meniscus. An estimated 750,000 arthroscopic surgeries are performed a year to repair or partially remove the meniscus. Due to alteration in normal knee biomechanics upon removal of any part of the meniscus, the incidence of developing osteoarthritis has been shown to increase with radiologically detectable changes as early as 5 years post-op. Several tissue engineering approaches have been taken to avoid meniscectomy, including the use of fibrin glue to secure the torn tissue and promote healing from the native growth factors within the fibrin. In developing other tissue engineered solutions to meniscal repair, it is necessary to first understand the response of native cells, fibrochondrocytes, to physiologic stimuli. Therefore, this proposal includes various facets to explore the response of fibrochondrocytes to exogenous biomechanical and biochemical stimuli in an effort to better understand the sensitivity of these cells in their native tissue matrix. These findings will also have implications towards the response of the cells when placed in a tissue engineered matrix.