Articular cartilage tissue engineering: The role of signaling molecules

Heenam Kwon, Nikolaos K. Paschos, Jerry C. Hu, Kyriacos Athanasiou

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Effective early disease modifying options for osteoarthritis remain lacking. Tissue engineering approach to generate cartilage in vitro has emerged as a promising option for articular cartilage repair and regeneration. Signaling molecules and matrix modifying agents, derived from knowledge of cartilage development and homeostasis, have been used as biochemical stimuli toward cartilage tissue engineering and have led to improvements in the functionality of engineered cartilage. Clinical translation of neocartilage faces challenges, such as phenotypic instability of the engineered cartilage, poor integration, inflammation, and catabolic factors in the arthritic environment; these can all contribute to failure of implanted neocartilage. A comprehensive understanding of signaling molecules involved in osteoarthritis pathogenesis and their actions on engineered cartilage will be crucial. Thus, while it is important to continue deriving inspiration from cartilage development and homeostasis, it has become increasingly necessary to incorporate knowledge from osteoarthritis pathogenesis into cartilage tissue engineering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1173-1194
Number of pages22
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Articular cartilage
  • Cartilage development
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Signaling molecules
  • Tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Medicine(all)


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