Introduction: Articular cartilage is renowned for its poor intrinsic capacity for repair. Current treatments for osteoarthritis are limited in their ability to reliably restore the native articular cartilage structure and function. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) present an attractive treatment option for articular cartilage repair, with a recent expansion of clinical trials investigating their use in patients.
Areas covered: This paper provides a current overview of the clinical evidence on the use of MSCs in articular cartilage repair.
Expert opinion: The article demonstrates robust clinical evidence that MSCs have significant potential for the regeneration of hyaline articular cartilage in patients. The majority of clinical trials to date have yielded significantly positive results with minimal adverse effects. However the clinical research is still in its infancy. The optimum MSC source, cell concentrations, implantation technique, scaffold, growth factors and rehabilitation protocol for clinical use are yet to be identified. A larger number of randomised control trials are required to objectively compare the clinical efficacy and long-term safety of the various techniques. As the clinical research continues to evolve and address these challenges, it is likely that MSCs may become integrated into routine clinical practice in the near future.Read More