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Cartilage defects pose a significant clinical challenge as they can lead to joint pain, swelling and stiffness, which reduces mobility and function thereby significantly affecting the quality of life of patients. More than 250,000 cartilage repair surgeries are performed in the United States every year. The current gold standard is the treatment of focal cartilage defects and bone damage with nonflexible metal or plastic prosthetics. However, these prosthetics are often made from hard and stiff materials that limits mobility and flexibility, and results in leaching of metal particles into the body, degeneration of adjacent soft bone tissues and possible failure of the implant with time. As a result, the patients may require revision surgeries to replace the worn implants or adjacent vertebrae. More recently, autograft – and allograft-based repair strategies have been studied, however these too are limited by donor site morbidity and the limited availability of tissues for surgery. There has been increasing interest in the past two decades in the area of cartilage tissue engineering where methods like 3D bioprinting may be implemented to generate functional constructs using a combination of cells, growth factors (GF) and biocompatible materials. 3D bioprinting allows for the modulation of mechanical properties of the developed constructs to maintain the required flexibility following implantation while also providing the stiffness needed to support body weight. In this review, we will provide a comprehensive overview of current advances in 3D bioprinting for cartilage tissue engineering for knee menisci and intervertebral disc repair. We will also discuss promising medical-grade materials and techniques that can be used for printing, and the future outlook of this emerging field.

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Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Kalindu Perera and Ryan Ivone are from the Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Cheryl Wilga is from the Department of Biological Sciences and the Department of Electrical, Computer and Biomedical Engineering.

Jie Shen and Jyothi U. Menon are from the Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Department of Chemical Engineering.