[Cartilage tissue engineering: state-of-the-art and future approaches]

L Galois, A-M Freyria, D Herbage, D Mainard
Pathologie-biologie 2005, 53 (10): 590-8
Lesions of the articular cartilage have a large variety of causes among which traumatic damage, osteoarthritis and osteochondritis dissecans are the most frequent. Returning damaged cartilage in articular joints back to a functionally normal state has been a major challenge for orthopaedic surgeons. This interest results in large part because cartilage defects cannot adequately heal themselves. Current techniques used in orthopaedic practice to repair cartilage give variable and unpredictable results. Bone marrow stimulation techniques such as abrasion arthroplasty, drilling and microfracture produce mostly fibrocartilage. Autologous osteochondral transplant systems (mosaicplasty) have shown encouraging results. Autologous chondrocyte transplantation has led to a hyaline articular cartilage repair but little is known about the predictability and reliability of the procedure. The rapidly emerging field of tissue engineering promises creation of viable substitutes for failing cartilage tissue. Current tissue engineering approaches are mainly focused on the restoration of pathologically altered tissue structure based on the transplantation of cells in combination with supportive matrices and molecules. Among natural and synthetic matrices, collagen and polysaccharidic biomaterials have been extensively used with promising results. Recently, interest has switched to the use of mesenchymal stem cells instead of chondrocytes. Tissue engineering offers the possibility to treat localised cartilage lesions. Genetic engineering techniques using genetically modified chondrocytes offer also the opportunity to treat diffuse cartilage lesions occurring in osteoarthritis or inflammatory joint diseases. Electroporation is specially a reliable and inexpensive technique that shares with electrochemotherapy an ability to target the chondrocytes despite the barrier effect of the extracellular matrix without viral vectors. The authors review recent research achievements and highlight the potential clinical applications of new technologies in the treatment of patients with cartilage injuries.

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