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Eur Cell Mater. 2008 Sep 3;16:26-39.

Cartilage integration: evaluation of the reasons for failure of integration during cartilage repair. A review.

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  • 1Connective Tissue Biology Laboratories, School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3US, Wales, UK.


Articular cartilage is a challenging tissue to reconstruct or replace principally because of its avascular nature; large chondral lesions in the tissue do not spontaneously heal. Where lesions do penetrate the bony subchondral plate, formation of hematomas and the migration of mesenchymal stem cells provide an inferior and transient fibrocartilagenous replacement for hyaline cartilage. To circumvent the poor intrinsic reparative response of articular cartilage several surgical techniques based on tissue transplantation have emerged. One characteristic shared by intrinsic reparative processes and the new surgical therapies is an apparent lack of lateral integration of repair or graft tissue with the host cartilage that can lead to poor prognosis. Many factors have been cited as impeding cartilage:cartilage integration including; chondrocyte cell death, chondrocyte dedifferentiation, the nature of the collagenous and proteoglycan networks that constitute the extracellular matrix, the type of biomaterial scaffold employed in repair and the origin of the cells used to repopulate the defect or lesion. This review addresses the principal intrinsic and extrinsic factors that impede integration and describe how manipulation of these factors using a host of strategies can positively influence cartilage integration.

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