The specialized function of articular cartilage in distributing stresses during normal joint movement must be recapitulated in a successful engineered cartilage repair. Chondrocytes can generate in vitro cartilage constructs with mechanical properties at or near native levels [1–3] when cultured in specialized media formulations. While these advances in chondrocyte-based tissue engineering are highly instructive, the difficulty of obtaining sufficient numbers of healthy autologous chondrocytes represents a considerable challenge. To circumvent this limitation, many have evaluated mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), an autologous cell type that can be expanded in vitro and with a demonstrated capacity for chondrogenic differentiation. Despite their potential, MSC-based engineered cartilage has yet to achieve functional properties comparable to those produced by chondrocytes in 3D culture [4–6].

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