Articular cartilage is a load-bearing tissue that lines the surface of bones in diarthrodial joints. Unfortunately, this avascular tissue has a limited capacity for intrinsic repair. Treatment options for articular cartilage defects include microfracture and arthroplasty; however, these strategies fail to generate tissue that adequately restores damaged cartilage. Limitations of current treatments for cartilage defects have prompted the field of cartilage tissue engineering, which seeks to integrate engineering and biological principles to promote the growth of new cartilage to replace damaged tissue. To date, a wide range of scaffolds and cell sources have emerged with a focus on recapitulating the microenvironments present during development or in adult tissue, in order to induce the formation of cartilaginous constructs with biochemical and mechanical properties of native tissue. Hydrogels have emerged as a promising scaffold due to the wide range of possible properties and the ability to entrap cells within the material. Towards improving cartilage repair, hydrogel design has advanced in recent years to improve their utility. Some of these advances include the development of improved network crosslinking (e.g. double-networks), new techniques to process hydrogels (e.g. 3D printing) and better incorporation of biological signals (e.g. controlled release). This review summarises these innovative approaches to engineer hydrogels towards cartilage repair, with an eye towards eventual clinical translation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering
- Cell Biology