Today, articular cartilage damage is a major health problem, affecting people of all ages. The existing conventional articular cartilage repair techniques, such as autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI), microfracture, and mosaicplasty, have many shortcomings which negatively affect their clinical outcomes. Therefore, it is essential to develop an alternative and efficient articular repair technique that can address those shortcomings. Cartilage tissue engineering, which aims to create a tissue-engineered cartilage derived from human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), shows great promise for improving articular cartilage defect therapy. However, the use of tissue-engineered cartilage for the clinical therapy of articular cartilage defect still remains challenging. Despite the importance of mechanical loading to create a functional cartilage has been well demonstrated, the specific type of mechanical loading and its optimal loading regime is still under investigation. This review summarizes the most recent advances in the effects of mechanical loading on human MSCs. First, the existing conventional articular repair techniques and their shortcomings are highlighted. The important parameters for the evaluation of the tissue-engineered cartilage, including chondrogenic and hypertrophic differentiation of human MSCs are briefly discussed. The influence of mechanical loading on human MSCs is subsequently reviewed and the possible mechanotransduction signaling is highlighted. The development of non-hypertrophic chondrogenesis in response to the changing mechanical microenvironment will aid in the establishment of a tissue-engineered cartilage for efficient articular cartilage repair.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.