Objective: Cartilage damage is a major problem in osteoarthritis (OA). Growth factors like transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) have great potential in cartilage repair. In this review, we will focus on the potential therapeutic intervention in OA with TGF-beta, application of the growth factor TGF-beta in cartilage repair and on the side effects of TGF-beta treatment that could occur.
Methods: This review summarizes peer-reviewed articles published in the PubMed database before November 2006. In addition, this review is supplemented with recent data of our own group on the use of TGF-beta as a cartilage reparative factor in OA.
Results: TGF-beta is crucial for cartilage maintenance and lack there of results in OA-like changes. Moreover, TGF-beta supplementation can enhance cartilage repair and is therefore a potential therapeutic tool. However, application of TGF-beta supplementation provides problems in other tissues of the joint and results in fibrosis and osteophyte formation. This can potentially be overcome by local inhibition of TGF-beta at sites of unwanted side-effects or by blocking downstream mediators of TGF-beta that are important for the induction of fibrosis or osteophyte formation.
Conclusion: Current understanding of TGF-beta suggests that it essential for cartilage integrity and that it is a powerful tool to prevent or repair cartilage damage. The side-effects that occur with TGF-beta supplementation can be overcome by local inhibition of TGF-beta itself or downstream mediators.