Stem Cells to the Rescue in Prevention of Osteoarthritis

New Insights into Understanding Development of Post-traumatic Osteoarthritis

Researchers from Beaumont Health System, Michigan, have been studying the mechanism of stem cell response to injury that may have clinical implications for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Working with rodent models, they report that injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) provokes mobilization and migration of stem cells to the rupture site. But because they are unable to penetrate the membrane surrounding the knee joint, their ability to promote regeneration and repair is hindered. The finding has significant implications for understanding the process by which post-traumatic osteoarthritis develops following a joint injury, according to the authors. The research was published online earlier this year, and is currently in press for publication in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage.

Post-traumatic osteoarthritis is a common injury affecting patients who inflict strain or stress to the knee, and is a leading cause of disability. The process by which the body reacts to and attempts to heal these injuries has been poorly understood. In addition to the discovery of the membrane barrier, the decline in stem cell population with age could explain why joint injuries don’t heal as well in older individuals. Lead author Kevin Baker, PhD, Beaumont director of orthopedic research commented “The next step of our research will be finding methods to get the stem cells inside the joint. If the stem cells can get through the membrane around the knee, they could help speed up the healing process and perhaps delay or prevent arthritis.”

Read more about the discovery here.

The journal abstract may be read here.

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