Articular cartilage: structure and regeneration

Tissue Eng Part B Rev. 2010 Dec;16(6):617-27. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEB.2010.0191. Epub 2010 Nov 2.


Articular cartilage (AC) has no or very low ability of self-repair, and untreated lesions may lead to the development of osteoarthritis. One method that has been proven to result in long-term repair or isolated lesions is autologous chondrocyte transplantation. However, first generation of these cells' implantation has limitations, and introducing new effective cell sources can improve cartilage repair. AC provides a resilient and compliant articulating surface to the bones in diarthrodial joints. It protects the joint by distributing loads applied to it, so preventing potentially damaging stress concentrations on the bone. At the same time it provides a low-friction-bearing surface to enable free movement of the joint. AC may be considered as a visco- or poro-elastic fiber-composite material. Fibrils of predominantly type II collagen provide tensile reinforcing to a highly hydrated proteoglycan gel. The tissue typically comprises 70% water and it is the structuring and retention of this water by the proteoglycans and collagen that is largely responsible for the remarkable ability of the tissue to support compressive loads.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cartilage, Articular / anatomy & histology*
  • Cartilage, Articular / cytology
  • Cartilage, Articular / physiology*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Transplantation
  • Fibrillar Collagens / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Regeneration / physiology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism


  • Fibrillar Collagens
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta