Conditions affecting cartilage through damage or age-related degeneration pose significant challenges to individual
patients and their healthcare systems. The disease burden will rise in the future as life expectancy increases. This
has resulted in vigorous efforts to develop novel therapies to meet current and future needs. Due to the limited regenerative
capacity of cartilage, in vitro tissue engineering techniques have emerged as the favoured technique by which to develop
replacements. Tissue engineering is mainly concerned with developing cartilage replacements in the form of chondrocyte
suspensions and three-dimensional scaffolds seeded with chondrocytes. One major limiting factor in the development
of clinically useful cartilage constructs is our understanding of the process by which cartilage is formed, chondrogenesis.
For example, techniques of culturing chondrocytes in vitro have been used for decades, resulting in chondrocytelike
cells which produce an extracellular matrix of similar composition to native cartilage, but with inferior physical properties.
It has now been realised that one aspect of chondrogenesis which had been ignored was the physical context in
which cartilage exists in vivo. This has resulted in the development of bioreactor systems which aim to introduce various
physical stresses to engineered cartilage in a controlled environment. This has resulted in some improvements in the quality
of tissue engineered cartilage. This is but one example of how the knowledge of chondrogenesis has been translated
into research practice. This paper aims to review what is currently known about the process of chondrogenesis and discusses
how this knowledge can be applied to tissue engineering.
Keywords: Cartilage development, cartilage tissue engineering, chondrocyte differentiation, chondrogenesis, condensation, regenerative capacity, scaffolds, dwarfism, ARTICULAR CARTILAGE DIFFERENTIATION, stem cells
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Published on: 30 May, 2012
Page: [243 - 259]