Material-Assisted Strategies for Osteochondral Defect Repair


The osteochondral (OC) unit plays a pivotal role in joint lubrication and in the transmission of constraints to bones during movement. The OC unit does not spontaneously heal; therefore, OC defects are considered to be one of the major risk factors for developing long-term degenerative joint diseases such as osteoarthritis. Yet, there is currently no curative treatment for OC defects, and OC regeneration remains an unmet medical challenge. In this context, a plethora of tissue engineering strategies have been envisioned over the last two decades, such as combining cells, biological molecules, and/or biomaterials, yet with little evidence of successful clinical transfer to date. This striking observation must be put into perspective with the difficulty in comparing studies to identify overall key elements for success. This systematic review aims to provide a deeper insight into the field of material-assisted strategies for OC regeneration, with particular considerations for the therapeutic potential of the different approaches (with or without cells or biological molecules), and current OC regeneration evaluation methods. After a brief description of the biological complexity of the OC unit, the recent literature is thoroughly analyzed, and the major pitfalls, emerging key elements, and new paths to success are identified and discussed.

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