The clinical potential of articular cartilage-derived progenitor cells: a systematic review

Margot Rikkers, Jasmijn V Korpershoek, Riccardo Levato, Jos Malda, Lucienne A Vonk

Published: December 2022


Over the past two decades, evidence has emerged for the existence of a distinct population of endogenous progenitor cells in adult articular cartilage, predominantly referred to as articular cartilage-derived progenitor cells (ACPCs). This progenitor population can be isolated from articular cartilage of a broad range of species, including human, equine, and bovine cartilage. In vitro, ACPCs possess mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC)-like characteristics, such as colony forming potential, extensive proliferation, and multilineage potential. Contrary to bone marrow-derived MSCs, ACPCs exhibit no signs of hypertrophic differentiation and therefore hold potential for cartilage repair. As no unique cell marker or marker set has been established to specifically identify ACPCs, isolation and characterization protocols vary greatly. This systematic review summarizes the state-of-the-art research on this promising cell type for use in cartilage repair therapies. It provides an overview of the available literature on endogenous progenitor cells in adult articular cartilage and specifically compares identification of these cell populations in healthy and osteoarthritic (OA) cartilage, isolation procedures, in vitro characterization, and advantages over other cell types used for cartilage repair. The methods for the systematic review were prospectively registered in PROSPERO (CRD42020184775).

Full Access Link: npj Regenerative Medicine