Chondromalacia patellae: current options and emerging cell therapies

Stem Cell Res Ther. 2021 Jul 18;12(1):412. doi: 10.1186/s13287-021-02478-4.


Chondromalacia patellae (CMP), also known as runner's knee, typically occurs in young patients, which is characterized by anterior knee pain (AKP) that is associated with visible changes in patellar cartilage. The initial pathological changes include cartilage softening, swelling, and edema. CMP is caused by several factors, including trauma, increased cartilage vulnerability, patellofemoral instability, bony anatomic variations, abnormal patellar kinematics, and occupation hazards. CMP may be reversible or may progress to develop patellofemoral osteoarthritis. Quadriceps wasting, patellofemoral crepitus, and effusion are obvious clinical indications. Additionally, radiological examinations are also necessary for diagnosis. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive diagnostic method, which holds a promise in having the unique ability to potentially identify cartilage lesions. Modalities are conventionally proposed to treat cartilage lesions in the PF joint, but none have emerged as a gold standard, neither to alleviated symptoms and function nor to prevent OA degeneration. Recently, researchers have been focused on cartilage-targeted therapy. Various efforts including cell therapy and tissue emerge for cartilage regeneration exhibit as the promising regime, especially in the application of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Intra-articular injections of variously sourced MSC are found safe and beneficial for treating CMP with improved clinical parameters, less invasiveness, symptomatic relief, and reduced inflammation. The mechanism of MSC injection remains further clinical investigation and is tremendously promising for CMP treatment. In this short review, etiology, MRI diagnosis, and treatment in CMP, especially the treatment of the cell-based therapies, are reviewed.

Keywords: Cell therapy; Chondrocyte implantation; Chondromalacia patellae; MRI; Mesenchymal stem cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cartilage, Articular* / diagnostic imaging
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy
  • Chondromalacia Patellae* / diagnostic imaging
  • Chondromalacia Patellae* / genetics
  • Chondromalacia Patellae* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee*
  • Patella