J Mech Behav Biomed Mater 2018 Oct 30;86:314-324. Epub 2018 Jun 30.
Institute of Orthopaedic Research and Biomechanics, Centre for Trauma Research Ulm, Ulm University Medical Centre, Helmholtzstr. 14, 89081 Ulm, Germany.
Meniscal injury is typically treated surgically via partial meniscectomy, which has been shown to cause cartilage degeneration in the long-term. Consequently, research has focused on meniscal prevention and replacement. However, none of the materials or implants developed for meniscal replacement have yet achieved widespread acceptance or demonstrated conclusive chondroprotective efficacy. A redesigned silk fibroin scaffold, which already displayed promising results regarding biocompatibility and cartilage protection in a previous study, was characterised in terms of its biomechanical, structural and biological functionality to serve as a potential material for permanent partial meniscal replacement. Therefore, different quasi-static but also dynamic compression tests were performed. However, the determined compressive stiffness (0.56 ± 0.31 MPa and 0.30 ± 0.12 MPa in relaxation and creep configuration, respectively) was higher in comparison to the native meniscal tissue, which could potentially disturb permanent integration into the host tissue. Nevertheless, µ-CT analysis met the postulated requirements for partial meniscal replacement materials in terms of the microstructural parameters, like mean pore size (215.6 ± 10.9 µm) and total porosity (80.1 ± 4.3%). Additionally, the biocompatibility was reconfirmed during cell culture experiments. The current study provides comprehensive mechanical and biological data for the characterisation of this potential replacement material. Although some further optimisation of the silk fibroin scaffold may be advantageous, the silk fibroin scaffold showed sufficient biomechanical competence to support loads already in the early postoperative phase.