Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common and widespread form of arthritis, affecting an estimated 655 million people worldwide. Occurring as a result of cartilage degeneration, OA is a progressive degenerative disorder that most commonly affects the joints of the hands, hips, knees, and spine.
Although OA can affect anyone, it is most commonly observed in older patients. In fact, all individuals over the age of 65 are believed to demonstrate some clinical or radiographic evidence of OA.
While surgical and pharmaceutical treatment options for OA exist as a way to manage the symptoms and progression of the disease, treatment for the restoration of normal cartilage function has yet to be achieved.
Considering the tissue of joint cartilage is composed primarily of chondrocytes found in bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs), using these specific stem cells appears to have significant potential for use in the therapeutic regeneration of cartilage.
In this review, Gupta et al. evaluate the advances in using BMSCs and their therapeutic potential for repairing cartilage damage in OA. Evaluating current research, the authors point out that one of the key characteristics of MSCs, including BMSCs, is that they are generally hypoimmunogenic and possess immunosuppressive activity, suggesting that BMSCs could be used as allogeneic applications for cartilage repair.
Preclinical models of OA have also demonstrated that the effects of MSC transplantation have been effective for cartilage repair. Additionally, clinical models have reported on the safety and positive therapeutic effects of MNSC administration in patients with OA.
The authors point out that while the exact mechanism by which BMSCs regenerate articular cartilage in patients with OA is not clear, their ability to induce proliferation and tissue-specific differentiation appears to aid in the repair of damaged cartilage.
The ability of BMSCs to migrate and engraft onto multiple musculoskeletal tissues and differentiate at the site of injury while demonstrating anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties demonstrate their potential as a therapeutic treatment for degenerative diseases like OA.
While the information provided in this review demonstrates the potential of BMSCs to support treatment and recovery from the damage caused because of OA, Gupta et al. call for additional clinical studies to assess the curative properties and long-term outcome of using MCSCs for the treatment of OA before they can be used routinely as a clinical treatment for the condition.
Source: “Mesenchymal stem cells for cartilage repair in osteoarthritis – PMC.” 9 Jul. 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3580463/.