Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy for Large Cartilage Defects

Abstract for “Injectable Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy For Large Cartilage Defects – A Porcine Model”

Current techniques in biological resurfacing of cartilage defects require an open arthrotomy or arthroscopy and involve the direct transplantation of isolated cells and/or scaffolds or whole tissue grafts with chondrogenic potential onto the cartilage defect. Our study investigates the possibility of direct intra-articular injection of mesenchymal stem cells suspended in hyaluronic acid (HA) as an alternative to the much more invasive methods currently available.

A partial-thickness (without penetration of the subchondral bone) cartilage defect was created in the medial femoral condyle of an adult minipig. Mesenchymal stem cells from the iliac crest marrow of the same pig harvested in a separate procedure and suspended in 2 milliliters of hylan G-F 20 (Synvisc) were injected intraarticularly after the creation of the defect. This was followed by two more injections of hylan G-F 20 (HA) at weekly intervals.

Either saline or HA was injected into the knees of the controls. The pigs were sacrificed at 6 and 12 weeks for morphological and histological analysis. The cell-treated groups showed improved cartilage healing both histologically and morphologically at 6 and 12 weeks compared with both controls. The use of intra-articular injections of mesenchymal stem cells suspended in HA is a viable option for treating large cartilage defects. This would be further explored in clinical trials.

Download full article on Therapy for Cartilage Defects

Published: Stem Cells, Jan 6 2008

Abstract for “A Novel, Minimally-Invasive Technique of Cartilage Repair in the Human Knee Using Arthroscopic Microfracture and Injections of Mesenchymal Stem Cells and Hyaluronic Acid—A Prospective Comparative Study on Safety and Short-Term Efficacy”


Most current cell-based cartilage repair techniques require some form of scaffolds and 2 separate surgical procedures. We propose a novel, scaffold-less technique of cartilage repair in the human knee that combines arthroscopic microfracture and outpatient intra-articular injections of autologous bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and hyaluronic acid (HA).

Materials and Methods

Seventy matched (age, sex, lesion size) knees with symptomatic cartilage defects underwent cartilage repair with the proposed technique (n = 35) or an open technique (n = 35) in which the MSCs were implanted beneath a sutured periosteal patch over the defect.

Prospective evaluation of both groups were performed using the International Cartilage Repair Society (ICRS) Cartilage Injury Evaluation Package, which included questions from the Short-Form (SF-36) Health Survey, International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC) subjective knee evaluation form, Lysholm knee scale, and Tegner activity level scale. Postoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) evaluation was also performed at 1 year for most patients.


There were no clinically signifi cant adverse events reported through the course of our study. At the final follow-up (mean = 24.5 months), there was signifi cant improvement in mean IKDC, Lysholm, SF-36 physical component score and visual analogue pain scores in both treatment groups.


In the short term, the results of this novel technique are comparable to the open procedure with the added advantages of being minimally invasive and requiring only a single operation under general anaesthesia. Its safety has been validated and its efficacy is currently being evaluated in an ongoing randomised controlled trial.

Download full article here: A Novel, Minimally-Invasive Technique of Cartilage Repair in the Human Knee Using Arthroscopic Microfracture and Injections of Mesenchymal Stem Cells and Hyaluronic Acid—A Prospective Comparative Study on Safety and Short-Term Effi cacy

Published: Annals Acad Medicine Singapore, Nov 2012