Chondrocytes are found in healthy cartilage, where they produce and maintain the cartilaginous matrix (consisting mainly of collagen and proteoglycans). Articular cartilage (AC) is a highly organized connective tissue lining that covers the ends of bones within articulating joints and is essential for stable motion. AC is vulnerable to lesions and has limited self-repair potential Degeneration of this cartilage leads to osteoarthritis in 50% of Americans. Current repair techniques such as abrasion arthroplasty, microfracture, and meniscal tissue implantation do not fully restore the tissue and resulting fibrocartilage lacks the mechanical properties of hyaline cartilage. Autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) to manage AC defects is problematic due to lack of sufficient articular chondrocytes (AChs) and donor site morbidity.
Mesenchymal stem cells are a promising alternative for directed ex vivo differentiation to chondrocytes to be used in cartilage transplantations.
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