Skeletal Muscle Regenerative Engineering

  • Xiaoyan Tang
  • Leila Daneshmandi
  • Guleid Awale
  • Lakshmi S. Nair
  • Cato T. LaurencinEmail author


Skeletal muscles have the intrinsic ability to regenerate after minor injury, but under certain circumstances such as severe trauma from accidents, chronic diseases, or battlefield injuries the regeneration process is limited. Skeletal muscle regenerative engineering has emerged as a promising approach to address this clinical issue. The regenerative engineering approach involves the convergence of advanced materials science, stem cell science, physical forces, insights from developmental biology, and clinical translation. This article reviews recent studies showing the potential of the convergences of technologies involving biomaterials, stem cells, and bioactive factors in concert with clinical translation, in promoting skeletal muscle regeneration. Several types of biomaterials such as electrospun nanofibers, hydrogels, patterned scaffolds, decellularized tissues, and conductive matrices are being investigated. Detailed discussions are given on how these biomaterials can interact with cells and modulate their behavior through physical, chemical, and mechanical cues. In addition, the application of physical forces such as mechanical and electrical stimulation is reviewed as strategies that can further enhance muscle contractility and functionality. The review also discusses established animal models to evaluate regeneration in two clinically relevant muscle injuries: volumetric muscle loss (VML) and muscle atrophy upon rotator cuff injury. Regenerative engineering approaches using advanced biomaterials, cells, and physical forces, developmental cues along with insights from immunology, genetics, and other aspects of clinical translation hold significant potential to develop promising strategies to support skeletal muscle regeneration.

Lay Summary

Skeletal muscle has robust regeneration properties, but in extreme conditions, the regeneration ability is hindered. It remains a common clinical problem that could lead to long-term disability. The available treatments such as muscle flap transposition present various limitations. To address these limitations, promising strategies based on regenerative engineering are being developed. This review article discusses the different approaches to tissue regeneration using the regenerative engineering paradigm. A specific discussion involves biomaterials and their interactions with cells and bioactive molecules. In addition, the advantages of physical and mechanical stimulation in muscle regeneration are discussed.


Skeletal muscle regeneration Biomaterials Animal models Cell therapy Small molecules 


Funding Information

The authors would like to acknowledge the NSF EFRI 1332329 and NIH DP1AR068147 and NIH RO1 AR063698 for funding this work (C.T.L.). Dr. Laurencin is a recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.


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Copyright information

© The Regenerative Engineering Society 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaoyan Tang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Leila Daneshmandi
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 5
  • Guleid Awale
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 6
  • Lakshmi S. Nair
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Cato T. Laurencin
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative EngineeringUConn HealthFarmingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryUConn HealthFarmingtonUSA
  3. 3.Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical, Biological, Physical and Engineering SciencesUConn HealthFarmingtonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Materials Science and EngineeringUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  5. 5.Department of Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  6. 6.Department of Chemical and Biomolecular EngineeringUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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