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Functional Biomolecule Delivery Systems And Bioengineering In Cartilage Regeneration

Marta A. Szychlinska, Ugo D'Amora, Silvia Ravalli, Luigi Ambrosio, Michelino Di Rosa, Giuseppe Musumeci

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Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common degenerative disease which involves articular cartilage, and leads to total joint disability in the advanced stages. Due to its avascular and aneural nature, damaged cartilage cannot regenerate itself. Stem cell therapy and tissue engineering represent a promising route in OA therapy, in which cooperation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and three-dimensional (3D) scaffolds contribute to cartilage regeneration. However, this approach still presents some limits such as poor mechanical properties of the engineered cartilage. The natural dynamic environment of the tissue repair process involves a collaboration of several signals expressed in the biological system in response to injury. For this reason, tissue engineering involving exogenous “influencers” such as mechanostimulation and functional biomolecule delivery systems (BDS), represent a promising innovative approach to improve the regeneration process. BDS provide a controlled release of biomolecules able to interact between them and with the injured tissue. Nano-dimensional BDS is the future hope for the design of personalized scaffolds, able to overcome the delivery problems. MSC-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) represent an attractive alternative to BDS, due to their innate targeting abilities, immunomodulatory potential and biocompatibility. Future advances in cartilage regeneration should focus on multidisciplinary strategies such as modular assembly strategies, EVs, nanotechnology, 3D biomaterials, BDS, mechanobiology aimed at constructing the functional scaffolds for actively targeted biomolecule delivery. The aim of this review is to run through the different approaches adopted for cartilage regeneration, with a special focus on biomaterials, BDS and EVs explored in terms of their delivery potential, healing capabilities and mechanical features.