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Stem Cells International
Volume 2018, Article ID 9079538, 22 pages
Review Article

Stem Cells for Cartilage Repair: Preclinical Studies and Insights in Translational Animal Models and Outcome Measures

1Department of Morphology, Biomedical Research Institute, Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences, Hasselt University, Campus Diepenbeek, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium
2Department of Veterinary Medicine, Integrated Veterinary Research Unit-Namur Research Institute for Life Science (IVRU-NARILIS), Faculty of Sciences, University of Namur, 5000 Namur, Belgium
3Department of Musculoskeletal Biology, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, University of Liverpool, Leahurst Campus, Neston CH64 7TE, UK

Correspondence should be addressed to Melissa Lo Monaco; eb.tlessahu@ocanomol.assilem

Received 27 July 2017; Revised 29 November 2017; Accepted 10 December 2017; Published 5 February 2018

Academic Editor: Celeste Scotti

Copyright © 2018 Melissa Lo Monaco et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Due to the restricted intrinsic capacity of resident chondrocytes to regenerate the lost cartilage postinjury, stem cell-based therapies have been proposed as a novel therapeutic approach for cartilage repair. Moreover, stem cell-based therapies using mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have been used successfully in preclinical and clinical settings. Despite these promising reports, the exact mechanisms underlying stem cell-mediated cartilage repair remain uncertain. Stem cells can contribute to cartilage repair via chondrogenic differentiation, via immunomodulation, or by the production of paracrine factors and extracellular vesicles. But before novel cell-based therapies for cartilage repair can be introduced into the clinic, rigorous testing in preclinical animal models is required. Preclinical models used in regenerative cartilage studies include murine, lapine, caprine, ovine, porcine, canine, and equine models, each associated with its specific advantages and limitations. This review presents a summary of recent in vitro data and from in vivo preclinical studies justifying the use of MSCs and iPSCs in cartilage tissue engineering. Moreover, the advantages and disadvantages of utilizing small and large animals will be discussed, while also describing suitable outcome measures for evaluating cartilage repair.