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Keywords:

  • direct current electric fields;
  • meniscus repair;
  • osteoarthritis;
  • tissue engineering

Abstract

Injuries to the inner regions of the knee meniscus do not heal and can result in degenerative changes to the articular surface, ultimately leading to osteoarthritis. A possible stimulus to enhance meniscus healing is to use electric fields that induce galvanotaxis. In this study, a novel characterization of the effects of direct current electric fields on migration characteristics of meniscus cells was performed. Primary and passaged inner and outer meniscus cells were exposed to varying electric field strengths from 0 to 6 V/cm. Cell migration was tracked using time lapse digital photography, and cell displacement and cathodal direct velocity were quantified. Cytoskeletal staining was performed to examine actin distribution and nuclear content. Cell adhesion strength was quantified as a function of wall shear stress. Meniscus cells exhibited cathodal migration and cell elongation perpendicular to the applied electric field accompanied by actin reorganization. Outer meniscus cells migrated quicker and exhibited lower adhesion strengths when compared to inner meniscus cells. Passaged cells exhibited higher migration characteristics when compared to primary cells. Overall, this study demonstrated that electric fields can significantly enhance and direct meniscus cell migration and suggests the potential for their incorporation in strategies of meniscus repair and tissue engineering. © 2011 Orthopaedic Research Society Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 30:103–111, 2012