About Cartilage Regeneration Stem Cell Treatment
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What is cartilage?
Cartilage is a smooth elastic yet resilient tissue. It provides a rubber-like padding which protects the end of joints. It is a structural component of the ear, ribcage, nose, invertebral discs, bronchial tubes and much more. Cartilage is stiffer than a muscle, but not as rigid as a bone.
Cartilage is made up of chondrocytes, which are specialized cells that produce abundant ground substance and collagenous extracellular matrix. Cartilage is avascular and aneural; it does not contain nerves or blood vessels. Cartilage does not repair.Functions of cartilage
Cartilage has the main function of holding tubes in the body open. Examples include the:
Types of cartilage
- Ala of the nostrils
- Rings of the trachea
- Torus tuberous
- Cricoids cartilage
- Pinna of the ear
There are three types of cartilage which are differentiated by the relative amounts of proteoglycan and collagen present. They include:
What is cartilage damage?
- Elastic cartilage
- Hyaline cartilage
Cartilage lacks its own blood supply and because of that, it is extremely hard to duplicate or restore once damaged. Cartilage regeneration is usually done for joints that have healthy but damaged cartilage. Cartilage damage is usually caused by:
Can stem cells be used to regenerate cartilage?
- Congenital abnormalities such as misalignment
- Injuries such as sports injuries
- Hormonal or idiopathic disorders which affect joint and bone development
- Repetitive use of the joint
- If cartilage is worn or damaged, it causes the joint to become stiff and painful. It also reduces the range of movement. In cases where the cartilage is completely worn away, the affected joints are left without a cushion and rub against each other.
- Due to stress on the ends of bones, bone spurs or osteophytes may also form at the joint margins. This results in poor function, loss of movement and significant pain.
- Cartilage damage can begin as a ‘pothole’ or cartilage lesion. If left untreated, it enlarges with time until all surrounding cartilage is worn away.
- Because cartilage has a very small ability to repair itself, untreated lesions even when small can lead to osteoarthritis.
Stem cells are cells produce in the bone marrow which has the ability to differentiate into different cells and help in regeneration of tissue. Mesenchymal stem cells can naturally differentiate into fibrous tissue, bone, and cartilage.
The most common stem cells used today are bone marrow and fat. Presently there is evidence that bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells can regenerate cartilage better than fat mesenchymal stem cells.
Modern procedures for cartilage regeneration use stem cells and techniques that are specially designed to heal the cartilage defect.Advantages of using stem cells for cartilage regeneration
Complications of cartilage damage
- Inflammation is controlled
- Helpful growth factors are released which help in repair
- Damaged or dying cell are recharged
- Stem cells help other cells produce proteins which help initiate repair
- Further deterioration of the joint and osteoarthritis if articular cartilage is affected
- Breathing problems if the airway cartilage is damaged
- Cosmetic problems if cartilage of the nose or ear is affected
Learn more about Cartilage Regeneration