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Exp Cell Res. 2013 Nov 1;319(18):2856-65. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.09.008. Epub 2013 Sep 19.

Articular cartilage-derived cells hold a strong osteogenic differentiation potential in comparison to mesenchymal stem cells in vitro.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Rostock University Medical Center, Schillingallee 69, D-18057 Rostock, Germany. Electronic address:


Cartilaginous matrix-degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis (OA) are characterized by gradual cartilage erosion, and also by increased presence of cells with mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) character within the affected tissues. Moreover, primary chondrocytes long since are known to de-differentiate in vitro and to be chondrogenically re-differentiable. Since both findings appear to conflict with each other, we quantitatively assessed the mesenchymal differentiation potential of OA patient cartilage-derived cells (CDC) towards the osteogenic and adipogenic lineage in vitro and compared it to that of MSC isolated from adipose tissue (adMSC) of healthy donors. We analyzed expression of MSC markers CD29, CD44, CD105, and CD166, and, following osteogenic and adipogenic induction in vitro, quantified their expression of osteogenic and adipogenic differentiation markers. Furthermore, CDC phenotype and proliferation were monitored. We found that CDC exhibit an MSC CD marker expression pattern similar to adMSC and a similar increase in proliferation rate during osteogenic differentiation. In contrast, the marked reduction of proliferation observed during adipogenic differentiation of adMSC was absent in CDC. Quantification of differentiation markers revealed a strong osteogenic differentiation potential for CDC, however almost no capacity for adipogenic differentiation. Since in the pathogenesis of OA, cartilage degeneration coincides with high bone turnover rates, the high osteogenic differentiation potential of OA patient-derived CDC may affect clinical therapeutic regimens aiming at autologous cartilage regeneration in these patients.

© 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Adipogenic differentiation; Adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (adMSC); Articular cartilage-derived cells (CDC); In vitro; Osteogenic differentiation

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