Articular cartilage is the connective tissue that lines the surfaces of diarthrodial joints in the human body. Because cartilage is avascular, aneural, and alymphatic, it has a limited capacity for repair. Techniques such as microfracture, transplantation of autologous cartilage, and allograft or xenograft transplantations have not proven fully effective in treating cartilage damage. Current therapy is focusing on cell-based treatments such as autologous chondrocyte transplantation [1,2]. However, this method faces several limitations, as the donor site can provide a limited number of cells and the harvesting procedure itself may cause significant local morbidity. The goal of this study was to examine the chondrogenic potential of an autologous source of undifferentiated stromal cells derived from subcutaneous fat. It has been shown that chondrocytes embedded in a three-dimensional matrix retain a differentiated phenotype and produce cartilage-associated proteins [3]. In addition, it has been shown that alginate or agarose can support the formation of an extracellular matrix over time [4,5]. The goal of this study was to examine the chondrogenic potential of adipose-derived stromal cells with the ultimate goal of developing a “tissue engineering” method to regenerate articular cartilage.

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