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Medicine and Health Sciences


Articular cartilage is a type of hyaline cartilage found on the ends of bones in articulating joints, which is supported by the joint capsule and synovial fluid. The chondrocyte is the native cell type and is responsible for the creation and continued maintenance of articular cartilage. Chondrocytes are found in limited numbers and are dwarfed by the volume of extra cellular matrix that they reside in. The chondrocytes respond to soluble growth factors, inflammatory mediators, and other signaling molecules derived from the synovial fluid in order to maintain the extracellular matrix in which they reside.The extra cellular matrix is primarily composed of water and macromolecules including collagens and proteoglycans. These basic components form several distinct layers that function together to provide a smooth, frictionless surface for joints to articulate and also sup-port the weight and compression of the entire body. Because mature articular cartilage is avascular, aneural, and alymphatic, traumatic injuries, long-term stress, and diseases such as osteoarthritis are difficult to heal on their own and difficult to repair with surgical interventions. While mature articular cartilage is well-characterized in the literature, developing/immature articular cartilage is not. Recent work has demonstrated that understanding the growth and development may be the key to understanding how to heal and repair this tissue. One promising avenue of study are thyroid hormones, particularly triiodothyronine (T3). Recent studies have shown that T3 and the subsequent signaling cascade is required for proper growth and development of articular cartilage. Continued study of T3 and its effect on growing/immature articular cartilage shows promising results and further study is warranted to understand growth and development of articular cartilage. In addition to the investigation of thyroid hormone, a variety of therapies are under investigation, ranging from stem cell therapies to exploiting natural growth factors for the induction of chondrocyte proliferation and tissue growth. Cellular-level therapies look promising for the field of articular cartilage repair and regeneration, although a more complete view of chondrocyte signaling pathways is necessary to create novel treatments.

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