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Tissue Sources for Arthritis Repair

Clinician's Brief (Capsule)


March 2014

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The relatively recent appreciation of stem cells in native tissue has stimulated research to garner them into chondrogenic replacements. This study compared cartilage, synovium, and adipose tissue as sources for osteochondral repair. Tissue was harvested from the grossly normal stifle joints from 6 dogs, expanded in monolayer culture, then exposed to osteogenic and chondrogenic media. Gene expression and biochemical, histologic, and immunohistochemical analyses were performed to identify osteogenic and chondrogenic potential. Cartilage cells were a superior source in their chondrogenic properties (eg, larger volume, proteoglycan-rich extracellular matrix, collagen mRNA expression). Adipose tissue and synovium were similarly poor in all evaluated measures. No tissue sources provided consistent evidence of osteogenic potential.


Arthritis, characterized by articular cartilage damage and loss, is a debilitating condition affecting human and pet populations. Traditional therapies are focused at amelioration of signs through a conservative approach or joint salvage for end stage disease. New approaches have focused on a regenerative approach in disease modification. Not surprisingly, in this study articular cartilage retained its chondrogenic potential; however, neither synovium nor adipose tissue possessed cartilage properties after expanded in cell culture and stimulated by chondrogenic media. Although source and target tissue are identical, these results are encouraging if the yield can be expanded to provide clinically relevant volumes of articular cartilage. Furthermore, these data contradict many novel therapeutic agents using adipose tissue, among others, that propose a benefit of cartilage regrowth after treatment.—Jason Bleedorn, DVM, DACVS


Evaluation of cartilage, synovium and adipose tissue as cellular sources for osteochondral repair. Innes JF, Gordon C, Vaughan-Thomas A, et al. VET J 197:619-624, 2013.

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