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Vol. 37 No. 2, March/April 2000
Pages 171 - 178

In vitro engineering of cartilage

Julie Glowacki, PhD

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Skeletal Biology Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Harvard School of Dental Medicine

Abstract — Because adult human cartilage shows poor capacity for repair and regeneration, innovative solutions are required for congenital and acquired degenerative cartilage lesions. Acquired lesions occur in young and old alike, the former being more at risk for sports-related injuries and the latter for age-related degenerative changes. Because cartilage is a relatively simple tissue with respect to its cellular homogeneity and avascularity, it has been a model for research of in vitro engineered tissues. Progress has been slow and obstructed on several levels. The adult chondrocyte has limited capacity for proliferation and has both catabolic and anabolic functions. These metabolic features must be controlled in order for engineered tissue to endure. Use of three-dimensional scaffolds can be combined with regulatory factors (cytokine, extracellular matrix [ECM], and mechanical) to optimize conditions for in vitro engineered cartilage. Cross-disciplinary interactions are likely to accelerate progress and to mediate application of advances made in other fields for consistently successful in vitro engineering of cartilage for all clinical needs.

Key words: chondrocytes, chondrogenesis, in vitro, three-dimensional.

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