A decellularized and sterilized human meniscus allograft for off-the-shelf meniscus replacement

Janne Spierings, Wietske Velthuijs, Amal Mansoor, Manon E. Bertrand, Jorge Alfredo Uquillas, Keita Ito, Rob P. A. Janssen & Jasper Foolen

Published: December 2022



Meniscus tears are one of the most frequent orthopedic knee injuries, which are currently often treated performing meniscectomy. Clinical concerns comprise progressive degeneration of the meniscus tissue, a change in knee biomechanics, and an early onset of osteoarthritis. To overcome these problems, meniscal transplant surgery can be performed. However, adequate meniscal replacements remain to be a great challenge. In this research, we propose the use of a decellularized and sterilized human meniscus allograft as meniscal replacement.


Human menisci were subjected to a decellularization protocol combined with sterilization using supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2). The decellularization efficiency of human meniscus tissue was evaluated via DNA quantification and Hematoxylin & Eosin (H&E) and DAPI staining. The mechanical properties of native, decellularized, and decellularized + sterilized meniscus tissue were evaluated, and its composition was determined via collagen and glycosaminoglycan (GAG) quantification, and a collagen and GAG stain. Additionally, cytocompatibility was determined in vitro.


Human menisci were decellularized to DNA levels of ~ 20 ng/mg of tissue dry weight. The mechanical properties and composition of human meniscus were not significantly affected by decellularization and sterilization. Histologically, the decellularized and sterilized meniscus tissue had maintained its collagen and glycosaminoglycan structure and distribution. Besides, the processed tissues were not cytotoxic to seeded human dermal fibroblasts in vitro.


Human meniscus tissue was successfully decellularized, while maintaining biomechanical, structural, and compositional properties, without signs of in vitro cytotoxicity. The ease at which human meniscus tissue can be efficiently decellularized, while maintaining its native properties, paves the way towards clinical use.

Full Access Link: Journal of Experimental Orthopaedics