Repair and tissue engineering techniques for articular cartilage

Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2015 Jan;11(1):21-34. doi: 10.1038/nrrheum.2014.157. Epub 2014 Sep 23.


Chondral and osteochondral lesions due to injury or other pathology commonly result in the development of osteoarthritis, eventually leading to progressive total joint destruction. Although current progress suggests that biologic agents can delay the advancement of deterioration, such drugs are incapable of promoting tissue restoration. The limited ability of articular cartilage to regenerate renders joint arthroplasty an unavoidable surgical intervention. This Review describes current, widely used clinical repair techniques for resurfacing articular cartilage defects; short-term and long-term clinical outcomes of these techniques are discussed. Also reviewed is a developmental pipeline of acellular and cellular regenerative products and techniques that could revolutionize joint care over the next decade by promoting the development of functional articular cartilage. Acellular products typically consist of collagen or hyaluronic-acid-based materials, whereas cellular techniques use either primary cells or stem cells, with or without scaffolds. Central to these efforts is the prominent role that tissue engineering has in translating biological technology into clinical products; therefore, concomitant regulatory processes are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biocompatible Materials / therapeutic use
  • Biological Factors / therapeutic use
  • Cartilage, Articular / cytology
  • Cartilage, Articular / injuries
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology*
  • Cartilage, Articular / surgery*
  • Chondrocytes / metabolism
  • Chondrocytes / transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / surgery
  • Knee Joint / pathology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation / methods
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology
  • Osteoarthritis / prevention & control
  • Osteoarthritis / surgery*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Regeneration
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*
  • Tissue Scaffolds
  • Wound Healing / physiology


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Biological Factors