Regenerative Medicine

Using Stem Cells to Engineer Cartilage for Joint Repair in Horses (15-17)

Principal Investigator:

Kyriacos A. Athanasiou, M.S., Ph.M., Ph.D.

Joint injuries occur frequently in the equine athlete, but effective treatments for cartilage repair are yet to be discovered due to the tissue’s inherent lack of healing response. Tissue engineering seeks to grow healthy new cartilage constructs in a controlled laboratory environment; however, methods need to be developed not only to select an appropriate cell source, but also to ensure that the engineered cartilage possesses adequate properties for implantation. The study determined that Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) derived from umbilical cord blood formed superior neocartilage than MSCs from equine bone marrow.


Using tissue engineering for cartilage repair is a potential tool to increase the success rate of surgical intervention as well as to hasten recovery times by replacing defective cartilage with a healthy neocartilage implant. Identifying an ideal cell source is the first step toward generating a viable cartilage repair product. This study demonstrated that cord-blood-derived MSCs may be used to produce viable cartilage grafts, as neocartilage produced from these MSCs have properties that resemble native equine articular cartilage in terms of composition and mechanical properties.  This work holds exciting translational applications for human joint resurfacing.