Natural large-scale regeneration of rib cartilage in a mouse model

J Bone Miner Res. 2015 Feb;30(2):297-308. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.2326.


The clinical need for methods to repair and regenerate large cartilage and bone lesions persists. One way to make new headway is to study skeletal regeneration when it occurs naturally. Cartilage repair is typically slow and incomplete. However, an exception to this observation can be found in the costal cartilages, where complete repair has been reported in humans but the cellular and molecular mechanisms have not yet been characterized. In this study, we establish a novel animal model for cartilage repair using the mouse rib costal cartilage. We then use this model to test the hypothesis that the perichondrium, the dense connective tissue that surrounds the cartilage, is a tissue essential for repair. Our results show that full replacement of the resected cartilage occurs quickly (within 1 to 2 months) and properly differentiates but that repair occurs only in the presence of the perichondrium. We then provide evidence that the rib perichondrium contains a special niche that houses chondrogenic progenitors that possess qualities particularly suited for mediating repair. Label-retaining cells can be found within the perichondrium that can give rise to new chondrocytes. Furthermore, the perichondrium proliferates and thickens during the healing period and when ectopically placed can generate new cartilage. In conclusion, we have successfully established a model for hyaline cartilage repair in the mouse rib, which should be useful for gaining a more detailed understanding of cartilage regeneration and ultimately for developing methods to improve cartilage and bone repair in other parts of the skeleton.


Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Cartilage, Articular / physiology*
  • Cell Cycle
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal
  • Regeneration / physiology*
  • Ribs / physiology*
  • Wound Healing