Objective: Large muscular or musculotendinous defects present a dilemma because of the inadequacies of current treatment strategies. Extracellular matrices (ECM) are potential clinically applicable regenerative biomaterials. This review summarizes information from the preclinical literature evaluating the use of ECM for muscle regeneration in animal models of volumetric muscle loss (VML). Study Design: Literature review. Sample population: Animal models of VML in which surgical repair was performed with an ECM product, with or without added cell populations. Methods: PubMed, Google Scholar, CAB abstracts, and Scopus were searched for preclinical studies using ECM in animal models of VML. The search terms “extracellular matrix,” “VML,” “muscle regeneration,” “cell seeded,” and “scaffold” identified 40 articles that met inclusion criteria of an animal model of VML in which surgical repair was performed with an ECM product, with or without added cell populations. Key skeletal muscle repair mechanisms and experimental findings on scaffold type, VML location, and experimental animal species were summarized. Conclusions: Satellite cells and basal lamina are key endogenous contributors to skeletal muscle regeneration. ECM as a dynamic tissue component may provide structural integrity, signaling molecules, and a 3-dimensional topography conducive to muscle regeneration. Preclinical models of muscle repair most commonly used mice and rats (88%). Most experimental lesions were created in abdominal wall (33%), anterior tibialis (33%), latissimus dorsi (10%), or quadriceps (10%) muscles. Matrices varied markedly in source and preparation. Experimental outcomes of ECM and cell-seeded ECM implantation for muscle regeneration in VML were highly variable and dependent on matrix tissue source, preparation method, and anatomic site of injury. Scar tissue formation likely contributes to load transfer. Nonappendicular lesions had better regenerative results compared with appendicular VML. Clinical significance: The preponderance of current evidence supports the use of ECM for muscle defect repair only in specific instances, such as nonappendicular and/or partial-thickness defects. Consequently, clinical use of ECM in veterinary patients requires careful consideration of the specific ECM product, lesion size and location, and loading circumstances.
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