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Degeneration of the knee joint during osteoarthritis often begins with meniscal lesions. Meniscectomy, previously performed extensively after meniscal injury, is now obsolete because of the inevitable osteoarthritis that occurs following this procedure. Clinically, meniscus self-renewal is well documented as long as the outer, vascularized meniscal ring remains intact. In contrast, regeneration of the inner, avascular meniscus does not occur. Here, we show that cartilage tissue harvested from the avascular inner human meniscus during the late stages of osteoarthritis harbors a unique progenitor cell population. These meniscus progenitor cells (MPCs) are clonogenic and multipotent and exhibit migratory activity. We also determined that MPCs are likely to be controlled by canonical transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) signaling that leads to an increase in SOX9 and a decrease in RUNX2, thereby enhancing the chondrogenic potential of MPC. Therefore, our work is relevant for the development of novel cell biological, regenerative therapies for meniscus repair.

Original publication




Journal article


Stem cell reports

Publication Date





789 - 803


Tissue Regeneration Work Group, Department of Prosthodontics, Medical Faculty, Georg-August-University, 37075 Goettingen, Germany.


Menisci, Tibial, Cells, Cultured, Chondrocytes, Stem Cells, Humans, Osteoarthritis, Proteome, Immunoblotting, Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis, Cell Culture Techniques, Tissue Engineering, Immunohistochemistry, Gene Expression Profiling, Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction, Proteomics, Signal Transduction, Cell Differentiation, Cell Movement, Aged, Middle Aged, Core Binding Factor Alpha 1 Subunit, Transforming Growth Factor beta3, SOX9 Transcription Factor