Concise review: the clinical application of mesenchymal stem cells for musculoskeletal regeneration: current status and perspectives

Stem Cells Transl Med. 2012 Mar;1(3):237-47. doi: 10.5966/sctm.2011-0036. Epub 2012 Feb 22.


Regenerative therapies in the musculoskeletal system are based on the suitable application of cells, biomaterials, and/or factors. For an effective approach, numerous aspects have to be taken into consideration, including age, disease, target tissue, and several environmental factors. Significant research efforts have been undertaken in the last decade to develop specific cell-based therapies, and in particular adult multipotent mesenchymal stem cells hold great promise for such regenerative strategies. Clinical translation of such therapies, however, remains a work in progress. In the clinical arena, autologous cells have been harvested, processed, and readministered according to protocols distinct for the target application. As outlined in this review, such applications range from simple single-step approaches, such as direct injection of unprocessed or concentrated blood or bone marrow aspirates, to fabrication of engineered constructs by seeding of natural or synthetic scaffolds with cells, which were released from autologous tissues and propagated under good manufacturing practice conditions (for example, autologous chondrocyte implantation). However, only relatively few of these cell-based approaches have entered the clinic, and none of these treatments has become a "standard of care" treatment for an orthopaedic disease to date. The multifaceted reasons for the current status from the medical, research, and regulatory perspectives are discussed here. In summary, this review presents the scientific background, current state, and implications of clinical mesenchymal stem cell application in the musculoskeletal system and provides perspectives for future developments.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / physiology
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / therapy*
  • Regeneration / physiology*
  • Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Tissue Engineering*