Cartilage tissue engineering is emerging as a therapeutic approach for the repair and regeneration
of cartilage tissue defects resulting from trauma and disease. It is still essential to explore approaches
that employ combinations of ideal seed cells, biomaterials, and growth factors to repair defect
areas because cartilage lacks spontaneous regenerative capabilities and traditional treatments do not
fully satisfy clinical requirements. The purpose of this review is to summarize key advances in this area
with an emphasis on adult stem cells because these cells possess a self-renewal ability and the potential
for multi-directional differentiation when cultured under appropriate conditions, such as chondrocyte
differentiation to synthesize cartilage-specific matrix proteins. Additionally, hydrogels and their synergistic
action with growth factors to co-regulate cell behaviors and cartilage regeneration will be addressed.
Hydrogels are three-dimensional water-swollen networks that provide a unique microenvironment
to promote the chondrogenic phenotype by encapsulating cells as a functional cartilage substitute
in a defect area. Ultimately, this review presents the prospect of combining adult stem cells, hydrogels,
and growth factors using interdisciplinary approaches that may lead to significant breakthroughs in
cartilage regeneration in the future.
Keywords: Cartilage, adult stem cells, hydrogels, growth factors, chondrogenic differentiation, regenerative medicine, tissue
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