The management of osteochondral defects of articular cartilage, whether from trauma or degenerative disease, continues to be a significant challenge for Orthopaedic surgeons. Current treatment options such as abrasion arthroplasty procedures, osteochondral transplantation and autologous chondrocyte implantation fail to produce repair tissue exhibiting the same mechanical and functional properties of native articular cartilage. This results in repair tissue that inevitably fails as it is unable to deal with the mechanical demands of articular cartilage, and does not prevent further degeneration of the native cartilage. Mesenchymal stem cells have been proposed as a potential source of cells for cell-based cartilage repair due to their ability to self-renew and undergo multi-lineage differentiation. This proposed procedure has the advantage of not requiring harvesting of cells from the joint surface, and its associated donor site morbidity, as well as having multiple possible adult donor tissues such as bone marrow, adipose tissue and synovium. Mesenchymal stem cells have multi-lineage potential, but can be stimulated to undergo chondrogenesis in the appropriate culture medium. As the majority of work with mesenchymal stem cell-derived articular cartilage repair has been carried out in vitro and in animal studies, more work still has to be done before this technique can be used for clinical purposes. This includes realizing the ideal method of harvesting mesenchymal stem cells, the culture medium to stimulate proliferation and differentiation, appropriate choice of scaffold incorporating growth factors directly or with gene therapy and integration of repair tissue with native tissue.
Keywords: Fibrocartilage, hyaline cartilage, knee, mesenchymal stem cells, osteoarthritis, osteochondral defect, cartilage repair, Chemokines, stem cell migration, EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS
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