Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 73, Issue 6, pp 1173–1194 | Cite as

Articular cartilage tissue engineering: the role of signaling molecules

  • Heenam Kwon
  • Nikolaos K. Paschos
  • Jerry C. Hu
  • Kyriacos AthanasiouEmail author


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.


Articular cartilage Tissue engineering Osteoarthritis Signaling molecules Cartilage development 



We would like to acknowledge funding by NIH R01 AR067821, AR061496, and CIRM TR3-05709.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heenam Kwon
    • 1
  • Nikolaos K. Paschos
    • 1
  • Jerry C. Hu
    • 1
  • Kyriacos Athanasiou
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of California DavisDavisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryUniversity of California Davis Medical CenterSacramentoUSA

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