Stem Cells for the Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis: A Comprehensive Review

Pain Physician. 2018 May;21(3):229-242.


Background: Knee osteoarthritis (KOA) is a very challenging condition to treat and can be resistant to medications, procedures, and even surgery. Surgery may not be an option for some patients due to obesity or comorbidities. Regenerative medicine utilizing stem cells, platelet rich plasma (PRP), amniotic fluid, and cytokine modulation is very promising in the treatment of KOA.

Objective: This is a review article to evaluate the current evidence about regenerative medicine therapies in the treatment of KOA.

Study design: A review article.

Setting: A review of literature.

Methods: An online search of PubMed and Cochrane Library databases between January 2006 and December 2016 was performed to search related articles using the keywords of "treatment, stem cell, knee osteoarthritis," limited to the English language. The articles were then screened to make sure only articles fitting our inclusion criteria were included.

Results: Our search obtained a total of 268 articles, but only 18 articles met the inclusion criteria and were included in the current study.

Limitations: There is still limited evidence in literature about the efficacy of regenerative medicine in treating KOA. More large clinical trials are needed to confirm the evidence.

Conclusion: The present investigation demonstrates that regenerative medicine technologies provide good evidence in the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee, but greater in-depth study to explore a more ideal way to overcome present difficulties, including standardization of sources of cells, is warranted.

Key words: Knee osteoarthritis, stem cell, treatment, platelet rich plasma, amniotic fluid, articular cartilage defect.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / therapy*
  • Regenerative Medicine* / methods
  • Regenerative Medicine* / statistics & numerical data
  • Regenerative Medicine* / trends
  • Stem Cell Transplantation* / methods
  • Stem Cell Transplantation* / statistics & numerical data
  • Stem Cell Transplantation* / trends