Design characteristics for the tissue engineering of cartilaginous tissues

Alejandro J. Almarza, Kyriacos A. Athanasiou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

163 Scopus citations


Tissues like the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disc and the knee meniscus are often mistakenly viewed as a tantamount to hyaline cartilage, largely due to the absence of a comprehensive understanding of the distinguishing properties of cartilaginous tissues. Because of this confusion, fibrocartilaginous tissue engineering attempts may not be based on suitable experimental designs. Fibrocartilaginous tissues are markedly different than hyaline cartilage; however, the dearth of knowledge related to their cellular and biochemical composition, as well as their biomechanical characteristics, is stunning. Hyaline articular cartilage is exclusively composed of chondrocytes that produce primarily type II collagen, whereas the TMJ disc and the knee meniscus have a mixed cell population of fibroblasts and cells similar to chondrocytes, which predominantly secrete type I collagen. Additionally, fibrocartilaginous tissues have a low glycosaminoglycan content, a low compressive modulus, and a high tensile modulus when compared to hyaline cartilage. Therefore, it is crucial for fibrocartilaginous tissue engineering attempts to be tissue-specific, utilizing the knowledge of the distinct and unique properties of these tissues. At the same time, advances and insights related to the science and engineering aspect of hyaline cartilage regeneration must be carefully considered for the in vitro engineering of fibrocartilaginous tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2-17
Number of pages16
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Cells
  • Collagen
  • Compression
  • GAG
  • Hyaline cartilage
  • Knee meniscus
  • Tension
  • Tissue engineering
  • TMJ disc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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