Meniscus injuries are among the most common orthopaedic injuries. Tears in the inner one-third of the meniscus heal poorly and present a significant clinical challenge. In this study, we hypothesized that progenitor cells from healthy human articular cartilage (C-PCs) may be more suitable than bone-marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) to mediate bridging and reintegration of fibrocartilage tissue tears in meniscus. C-PCs were isolated from healthy human articular cartilage based on their expression of mesenchymal stem/progenitor marker ALCAM (CD166). Our findings revealed that healthy human C-PCs are CD166+, CD90+, CD54+, CD106- cells with multi-lineage differentiation potential and elevated basal expression of chondrogenesis marker SOX-9. We show that, similar to BM-MSCs, C-PCs are responsive to the chemokine stromal cell derived factor-1 (SDF-1) and they can successfully migrate to the area of meniscal tissue damage promoting collagen bridging across inner meniscal tears. In contrast to BM-MSCs, C-PCs maintaining reduced expression of cellular hypertrophy marker collagen X in monolayer culture and in an ex-plant organ culture model of meniscus repair. Treatment of C-PCs with SDF-1/CXCR4 pathway inhibitor AMD3100 disrupted cell localization to area of injury and prevented meniscus tissue bridging thereby indicating that the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis is an important mediator of this repair process. This study suggests that C-PCs from healthy human cartilage may potentially be a useful tool for fibrocartilage tissue repair/regeneration because they resist cellular hypertrophy and mobilize in response to chemokine signaling."

Check out the Cartilage Research Lab's most recent publication on the Stem Cells Journal website located here.