eCM (Eur Cell Mater / e Cells & Materials) eCM Open Access Scientific Journal
 ISSN:1473-2262         NLM:100973416 (link)         DOI:10.22203/eCM

2020   Volume No 40 – pages 239-258

Title: Balancing biological and biomechanical performance in intervertebral disc repair: a systematic review of injectable cell delivery biomaterials

Authors: CJ Panebianco, JH Meyers, J Gansau, WW Hom, JC Iatridis

Address: Leni and Peter W. May Department of Orthopaedics, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA

E-mail: james.iatridis at

Abstract: Discogenic back pain is a common condition without approved intervertebral disc (IVD) repair therapies. Cell delivery using injectable biomaterial carriers offers promise to restore disc height and biomechanical function, while providing a functional niche for delivered cells to repair degenerated tissues. This systematic review advances the injectable IVD cell delivery biomaterials field by characterising its current state and identifying themes of promising strategies. Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta- Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were used to screen the literature and 183 manuscripts met the inclusion criteria. Cellular and biomaterial inputs, and biological and biomechanical outcomes were extracted from each study. Most identified studies targeted nucleus pulposus (NP) repair. No consensus exists on cell type or biomaterial carrier, yet most common strategies used mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) delivery with interpenetrating network/co-polymeric (IPN/CoP) biomaterials composed of natural biomaterials. All studies reported biological outcomes with about half the studies reporting biomechanical outcomes. Since the IVD is a load-bearing tissue, studies reporting compressive and shear moduli were analysed and two major themes were found. First, a competitive balance, or ‘seesaw’ effect, between biomechanical and biological performance was observed. Formulations with higher moduli had inferior cellular performance, and vice versa. Second, several low-modulus biomaterials had favourable biological performance and matured throughout culture duration with enhanced extracellular matrix synthesis and biomechanical moduli. Findings identify an opportunity to develop next-generation biomaterials that provide high initial biomechanical competence to stabilise and repair damaged IVDs with a capacity to promote cell function for long-term healing.

Key Words: Intervertebral disc, annulus fibrosus, nucleus pulposus, biocompatible materials, biomaterials, hydrogels, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, cell- and tissue-based therapy, cell delivery.

Publication date: November 18th 2020

Article download: Pages 239-258 (PDF file)

Supplementary file: Appendix B

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