Background: The articular cartilage is unique in that it contains only a single type of cell
and shows poor ability for spontaneous healing. Currently, approaches for treating cartilage defects
include surgical and nonsurgical approaches, as well as cartilage tissue engineering. For standard cartilage
tissue engineering, three elements are required, i.e., a scaffold, growth factors, and seed cells.
With advancements in stem cell research, the main sources of cells for cartilage tissue engineering are
embryonic and mesenchymal stem cells, which have been shown to be promising alternatives in recent
Objective: In this review, we focus on the applications of various stem cells in cartilage tissue engineering.
Results: Under certain conditions, several types of stem cells, including embryonic stem cells, mesenchymal
stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, and cartilage progenitor cells, showed potential for
applications in chondrogenic differentiation.
Conclusion: Stem cells can be developed as important cell sources for cartilage tissue engineering if
appropriate microenvironments and bioactive factors are supplied. However, further studies are needed
to determine the ideal cell type for cartilage repair, particularly using in vivo and clinical studies.