Mesenchymal Stem Cells and Their Clinical Applications in Osteoarthritis

Cell Transplant. 2016;25(5):937-50. doi: 10.3727/096368915X690288. Epub 2015 Dec 18.


Osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative joint disorder characterized by articular cartilage destruction and osteophyte formation. Chondrocytes in the matrix have a relatively slow turnover rate, and the tissue itself lacks a blood supply to support repair and remodeling. Researchers have evaluated the effectiveness of stem cell therapy and tissue engineering for treating osteoarthritis. All sources of stem cells, including embryonic, induced pluripotent, fetal, and adult stem cells, have potential use in stem cell therapy, which provides a permanent biological solution. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) isolated from bone marrow, adipose tissue, and umbilical cord show considerable promise for use in cartilage repair. MSCs can be sourced from any or all joint tissues and can modulate the immune response. Additionally, MSCs can directly differentiate into chondrocytes under appropriate signal transduction. They also have immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory paracrine effects. This article reviews the current clinical applications of MSCs and future directions of research in osteoarthritis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / cytology
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology
  • Cartilage, Articular / blood supply
  • Cartilage, Articular / cytology*
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy / methods*
  • Chondrocytes / cytology*
  • Chondrocytes / pathology
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Osteoarthritis / therapy*
  • Regeneration / physiology
  • Umbilical Cord / cytology