Tears in the avascular portion of the knee meniscus are commonplace and are frequently incapable of healing spontaneously. Delivery of synovial cells from the meniscal periphery to avascular injuries can result in an effective healing response but is difficult to accomplish surgically. This report describes the development of a novel in vitro model comprised of three-dimensionally cultured cells in agarose used to assess the proof of concept that a cellular conduit device could be used to facilitate the delivery of synovial fibroblasts from a cell source to a remote acellular recipient site. The results indicate that synovial fibroblasts are capable of migrating through a cellular conduit more optimally than a created trephined channel over a clinically relevant distance in response to a chemotactic gradient. This model proved to be a reliable way to assess fibroblast-like synoviocyte migration in a clinically relevant fashion for application to avascular meniscal tear healing methodologies, and provided mechanistic information regarding the successful in vivo testing of this specific biomedical device.
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Vol. 44 • No. 7