Mesenchymal chondroprogenitor cell origin and therapeutic potential.Stem Cell Res Ther. 2011 Feb 18; 2(1):8.SC
Mesenchymal progenitor cells, a multipotent adult stem cell population, have the ability to differentiate into cells of connective tissue lineages, including fat, cartilage, bone and muscle, and therefore generate a great deal of interest for their potential use in regenerative medicine. During development, endochondral bone is formed from a template of cartilage that transforms into bone; however, mature articular cartilage remains in the articulating joints, where its principal role is reducing friction and dispersing mechanical load. Articular cartilage is prone to damage from sports injuries or ageing, which regularly progresses to more serious joint disorders, such as osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease characterized by the thinning and eventual wearing of articular cartilage, and affects millions of people worldwide. Due to low chondrocyte motility and proliferative rates, and complicated by the absence of blood vessels, cartilage has a limited ability to self-repair. Current pharmaceutical and surgical interventions fail to generate repair tissue with the mechanical and cellular properties of native host cartilage. The long-term success of cartilage repair will therefore depend on regenerative methodologies resulting in the restoration of articular cartilage that closely duplicates the native tissue. For cell-based therapies, the optimal cell source must be readily accessible with easily isolated, abundant cells capable of collagen type II and sulfated proteoglycan production in appropriate proportions. Although a cell source with these therapeutic properties remains elusive, mesenchymal chondroprogenitors retain their expansion capacity with the promise of reproducing the structural or biomechanical properties of healthy articular cartilage. As current knowledge regarding chondroprogenitors is relatively limited, this review will focus on their origin and therapeutic application.