Stem cell-based tissue engineering is poised to revolutionize the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries. However, in order to overcome scientific, practical, and regulatory obstacles and optimize therapeutic strategies, it is essential to better understand the mechanisms underlying the pro-regenerative effects of stem cells. There has been an attempted paradigm shift within the last decade to think of transplanted stem cells as “medicinal” therapies that orchestrate healing on the basis of their secretome and immunomodulatory profiles rather than acting as bona fide stem cells that proliferate, differentiate, and directly produce matrix to form de novo tissues. Yet the majority of current bone and skeletal muscle tissue engineering strategies are still premised on a direct contribution of stem cells as building blocks to tissue regeneration. Our review of the recent literature finds that researchers continue to focus on the quantification of de novo bone/skeletal muscle tissue following treatment and few studies aim to address this mechanistic conundrum directly. The dichotomy of thought is reflected in the diversity of new advances ranging from in situ three-dimensional bioprinting to a focus on exosomes and extracellular vesicles. However, recent findings elucidating the role of the immune system in tissue regeneration combined with novel imaging platform technologies will have a profound impact on our future understanding of how stem cells promote healing following biomaterial-mediated delivery to defect sites.
- Musculoskeletal tissue engineering
- Stem cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)