Either osteoarthritis or sports-related injuries can lead to cartilage defects, whereas both chondrocyte self-renewal and conventional treatments face limitations. In cartilage regenerative medicine, growth factors are commonly used to induce chondrogenic differentiation of stem cells. However, application of growth factors is confined by some drawbacks. Emerging small molecules are regarded as an alternative for cartilage regeneration. A recently discovered small-molecule compound, kartogenin (KGN), has been proven to be a chondrogenic and chondroprotective agent and is more effective in inducing cartilage regeneration when compared with growth factors. KGN has been processed and applied in many forms, such as in intra-articular injection, in collaboration with growth factors, in incorporation in drug delivery systems, and in combination with scaffolds. Fortunately, progress has been achieved in KGN applications. The current review discusses the recent advances in KGN for cartilage regeneration and thus presents new concepts in cartilage repair in clinical settings.
Keywords: Kartogenin; cartilage regeneration; chondrogenesis; chondroprotection; small molecule drugs.