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Concept: Autologous chondrocyte implantation


OBJECTIVE: The 1-34 amino acid segment of the parathyroid hormone (PTH [1-34]) mediates anabolic effects in chondrocytes and osteocytes. The aim of this study was to investigate whether systemic application of PTH [1-34] improves the repair of non-osteoarthritic, focal osteochondral defects in vivo. DESIGN: Standardized cylindrical osteochondral defects were bilaterally created in the femoral trochlea of rabbits (n = 8). Daily subcutaneous injections of 10 μg PTH [1-34]/kg were given to the treatment group (n = 4) for 6 weeks, controls (n = 4) received saline. Articular cartilage repair was evaluated by macroscopic, biochemical, histological and immunohistochemical analyses. Reconstitution of the subchondral bone was assessed by micro-computed tomography. Effects of PTH [1-34] on synovial membrane, apoptosis, and expression of the PTH receptor (PTH1R) were determined. RESULTS: Systemic PTH [1-34] increased PTH1R expression on both, chondrocytes and osteocytes within the repair tissue. PTH [1-34] ameliorated the macro- and microscopic aspect of the cartilaginous repair tissue. It also enhanced the thickness of the subchondral bone plate and the microarchitecture of the subarticular spongiosa within the defects. No significant correlations were established between these coexistent processes. Apoptotic levels, synovial membrane, biochemical composition of the repair tissue, and type-I/II collagen immunoreactivity remained unaffected. CONCLUSIONS: PTH [1-34] emerges as a promising agent in the treatment of focal osteochondral defects as its systemic administration simultaneously stimulates articular cartilage and subchondral bone repair. Importantly, both time-dependent mechanisms of repair did not correlate significantly at this early time point and need to be followed over prolonged observation periods.

Concepts: Autologous chondrocyte implantation, Calcitonin, Extracellular matrix, Collagen, Articular cartilage repair, Parathyroid hormone, Cartilage, Bone


Untreated articular cartilage defects may lead to chronic joint degeneration and functional disability. In the past decade, several cartilage repair techniques have emerged for the treatment of cartilage lesions. Among these techniques, mosaicplasty was introduced by the senior author into the clinical practice in 1992. This article does not intend to give a review or a comparison of currently existing surgical techniques which aim to repair symptomatic focal defects; however, it focuses on the procedures used in the everyday practice in the authors' institute, namely microfracture, mosaicplasty, autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI), osteochondral allograft transplantation and biodegradable osteochondral scaffolds. It gives a brief summary of these well-described techniques, summarizes the authors' clinical experience and available data on the clinical outcome, and the rehabilitation protocol following different procedures, with a special emphasis on mosaicplasty.

Concepts: Organ transplant, Articular cartilage damage, Chondrocyte, Knee, Knee cartilage replacement therapy, Articular cartilage repair, Cartilage, Autologous chondrocyte implantation


The term parachute trial entered the medical lexicon to depict studies of treatments everyone already assumes to be effective. (In other words, do we need a trial to show that parachutes save the lives of persons who jump from airplanes?(1)) The parachute trial has been invoked to decry randomized trials of total joint replacement as senseless. After all, joint replacements are among the most significant advances of the 20th century; don’t we already know they are successful? Nearly 1 million elective total knee and hip replacements are performed annually in the United States; rates of total knee replacement tripled . . .

Concepts: Osteoarthritis, Joints, Autologous chondrocyte implantation, Hip replacement, Orthopedic surgery, United States, 20th century, Knee replacement


Senescent cells (SnCs) accumulate in many vertebrate tissues with age and contribute to age-related pathologies, presumably through their secretion of factors contributing to the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). Removal of SnCs delays several pathologies and increases healthy lifespan. Aging and trauma are risk factors for the development of osteoarthritis (OA), a chronic disease characterized by degeneration of articular cartilage leading to pain and physical disability. Senescent chondrocytes are found in cartilage tissue isolated from patients undergoing joint replacement surgery, yet their role in disease pathogenesis is unknown. To test the idea that SnCs might play a causative role in OA, we used the p16-3MR transgenic mouse, which harbors a p16(INK4a) (Cdkn2a) promoter driving the expression of a fusion protein containing synthetic Renilla luciferase and monomeric red fluorescent protein domains, as well as a truncated form of herpes simplex virus 1 thymidine kinase (HSV-TK). This mouse strain allowed us to selectively follow and remove SnCs after anterior cruciate ligament transection (ACLT). We found that SnCs accumulated in the articular cartilage and synovium after ACLT, and selective elimination of these cells attenuated the development of post-traumatic OA, reduced pain and increased cartilage development. Intra-articular injection of a senolytic molecule that selectively killed SnCs validated these results in transgenic, non-transgenic and aged mice. Selective removal of the SnCs from in vitro cultures of chondrocytes isolated from patients with OA undergoing total knee replacement decreased expression of senescent and inflammatory markers while also increasing expression of cartilage tissue extracellular matrix proteins. Collectively, these findings support the use of SnCs as a therapeutic target for treating degenerative joint disease.

Concepts: Anterior cruciate ligament, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ligament, Extracellular matrix, Autologous chondrocyte implantation, Cartilage, Osteoarthritis, Knee


Aggrecan is a major matrix component of articular cartilage, and its degradation is a crucial event in the development of osteoarthritis (OA). Adamalysin-like metalloproteinase with thrombospondin motifs 5 (ADAMTS-5) is a major aggrecan-degrading enzyme in cartilage, but there is no clear correlation between ADAMTS-5 mRNA levels and OA progression. Here, we report that post-translational endocytosis of ADAMTS-5 by chondrocytes regulates its extracellular activity. We found 2- to 3-fold reduced aggrecanase activity when ADAMTS-5 was incubated with live porcine cartilage, resulting from its rapid endocytic clearance. Studies using receptor-associated protein (RAP), a ligand-binding antagonist for the low-density lipoprotein receptor-related proteins (LRPs), and siRNA-mediated gene silencing revealed that the receptor responsible for ADAMTS-5 clearance is LRP-1. Domain-deletion mutagenesis of ADAMTS-5 identified that the noncatalytic first thrombospondin and spacer domains mediate its endocytosis. The addition of RAP to porcine cartilage explants in culture increased the basal level of aggrecan degradation, as well as ADAMTS-5-induced aggrecan degradation. Notably, LRP-1-mediated endocytosis of ADAMTS-5 is impaired in chondrocytes of OA cartilage, with ∼90% reduction in protein levels of LRP-1 without changes in its mRNA levels. Thus, LRP-1 dictates physiological and pathological catabolism of aggrecan in cartilage as a key modulator of the extracellular activity of ADAMTS-5.-Yamamoto, K., Troeberg, L., Scilabra, S. D., Pelosi, M., Murphy, C. L., Strickland, D. K., Nagase, H. LRP-1-mediated endocytosis regulates extracellular activity of ADAMTS-5 in articular cartilage.

Concepts: C-reactive protein, Autologous chondrocyte implantation, RNA, Cartilage, Cholesterol, Chondroitin sulfate, Cell membrane, Protein


Cartilage therapy for focal articular lesions of the knee has been implemented for more than a decade, and it is becoming increasingly available. What do we know on the healing response of cartilage lesions? What do we know on the treatment of focal cartilage lesions of the knee and the prognostic factors involved? PubMed articles related to articular cartilage regeneration of the knee in clinical studies were searched from January 2006 to November 2012, using the following key words: articular cartilage, regeneration, clinical studies, and knee. A total of 44 reports were found. They showed the following possibilities for the treatment of focal lesions of the articular cartilage of the knee: cartilage regeneration and repair including cartilage reparation with gene-activated matrices, autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) and matrix-induced ACI (MACI), microfracture, osteochondral autograft transfer (mosaicplasty), biological approaches (scaffolds, mesenchymal stem cells-MSCs, platelet-rich plasma, growing factors-GF, bone morphogenetic proteins-BMPs, magnetically labeled synovium-derived cells-M-SDCs, and elastic-like polypeptide gels), osteotomies, stem-cell-coated titanium implants, and chondroprotection with pulsed electromagnetic fields. Untreated cartilage lesions on the femoral condyles had a superior healing response compared to those on the tibial plateaus, and in the patellofemoral joint. Clinical outcome regarding the treatment of medial defects is better than that of the lateral defects. Improvement from baseline was better for patients < or = 30 years compared with patients > or = 30 years. ACI, MACI, and mosaicplasty have shown similar results. The results of comparative clinical studies using ACI have shown some superiority over conventional microfracturing in medium or large defects and in long-term durability. Some biological methods such as scaffolds, MSCs, GF, M-SDCs, BMPs, and elastic-like polypeptide gels still need more research.

Concepts: Chondrocyte, Collagen, Articular cartilage repair, Bone, Knee cartilage replacement therapy, Knee, Autologous chondrocyte implantation, Cartilage


The regeneration capacity of articular cartilage is very limited. Therefore, cartilage defects heal poorly and are known as prearthrotic lesions. Autologous Matrix-Induced Chondrogenesis (AMIC) is an innovative treatment concept for localized full-thickness cartilage defects. This technique combines the well-established microfracturing with a collagen I/III scaffold fixated by fibrin glue.

Concepts: Knee cartilage replacement therapy, Bone, Autologous chondrocyte implantation, Knee, Collagen, Cartilage


PURPOSE: Osteoarthritis (OA) is characterized by chondrocyte apoptosis and necrosis which play a key role during the progression of OA. Intra-articular administration of bupivacaine is a practical and effective way of postoperative pain control following various joint surgeries. 0.25 % bupivacaine showed to be safe in terms of chondrocyte toxicity. Around 200 nM of bupivacaine was shown to be effective for peripheral nerve block. This study aims to observe the possible cytotoxic effects of bupivacaine and its enantiomer levobupivacaine on chondrocyte cell culture at 7.69, 76.9, and 384.5 μM or at 0.0125, 0.0025, and 0.00025 % concentrations, respectively. METHODS: Chondrocytes were isolated from rat articular cartilage after incubating with collagenase in RPMI-1640 medium. Cells were treated with bupivacaine and levobupivacaine at 7.69, 76.9, and 384.5 μM concentrations for 6, 24, and 48 h. Treated chondrocytes were stained with acridine orange and ethidium bromide and examined under a fluorescence microscope at a 490 nm excitation wavelength for apoptotic changes. RESULTS: Study results suggest that both bupivacaine and levobupivacaine have dose-dependent chondrocyte toxicity, and this is significantly lesser at 7.69 μM dose. There was no significant difference in terms of chondrocyte apoptosis, (p > 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Clinicians should be skeptic for the serious long-term side effects of bupivacaine and its analogs, even at ultra-low doses.

Concepts: Fluorescence, Osteoarthritis, Chondrocyte, Autologous chondrocyte implantation, Knee, Apoptosis, Cell, Cartilage


This article reviews the basics of articular cartilage biology, which provide a necessary foundation for understanding the evolving field of articular cartilage injury and repair. The currently popular treatment options for osteochondral injury (microfracture, osteochondral autograft transfer system, osteochondral allograft, autologous chondrocyte implantation, and the use of scaffolds with autologous chondrocyte implantation) document the significant advances made in this area in the past 2 decades. Integration of newly available information and technology derived from advances in molecular biology and tissue engineering holds even greater promise for continued advances in optimal management of this challenging problem.

Concepts: Biology, Knee cartilage replacement therapy, Evolution, DNA, Extracellular matrix, Molecular biology, Cartilage, Autologous chondrocyte implantation


PURPOSE: Graft hypertrophy is a major complication in the treatment for localized cartilage defects with autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) using periosteal flap and its further development, Novocart (a matrix-based ACI procedure). The aim of the present study is to investigate individual criteria for the development of graft hypertrophy by NOVOCART 3D implantation of the knee in the post-operative course of 2 years. METHODS: Forty-one consecutive patients with 44 isolated cartilage defects of the knee were treated with NOVOCART 3D implants. Individual criteria and defect-associated criteria were collected. Follow-up MRIs were performed at 3, 6, 12 and 24 months. The NOVOCART 3D implants were measured and classified. The modified MOCART Score was used to evaluate quality and integration of the NOVOCART 3D implants in MRI. RESULTS: Graft hypertrophy was observed in a total of 11 patients at all post-operative time points. We were able to show that NOVOCART 3D implantation of cartilage defects after acute trauma and osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) led to a significantly increased proportion of graft hypertrophy. No other individual criteria (age, gender, BMI) or defect-associated criteria (concomitant surgery, second-line treatment, defect size, fixation technique) showed any influence on the development of graft hypertrophy. The modified MOCART Score results revealed a significant post-operative improvement within 2 years. CONCLUSION: The aetiology of cartilage defects appears to have a relevant influence for the development of graft hypertrophy. Patients, who were treated with NOVOCART 3D implants after an acute event (acute trauma or OCD), are especially at risk for developing a graft hypertrophy in the post-operative course of two years. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Case series, Level IV.

Concepts: Knee replacement, Knee cartilage replacement therapy, Knee, Magnetic resonance imaging, Osteochondritis dissecans, Cartilage, Autologous chondrocyte implantation