Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Regenerative medicine

Cartilage stem cells identified, but can they heal?

Regeneration of articular cartilage has been a long-standing challenge in the field of regenerative medicine. In the past 2 years, several studies have genetically identified the presence of stem cells in the surface of articular cartilage, but questions remain as to the healing properties of these cells.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Developmental origin and healing capacity of PRG4+ stem cells.


  1. 1

    Jiang, Y. & Tuan, R. S. Origin and function of cartilage stem/progenitor cells in osteoarthritis. Nat. Rev. Rheumatol. 11, 206–212 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Decker, R. S. et al. Cell origin, volume and arrangement are drivers of articular cartilage formation, morphogenesis and response to injury in mouse limbs. Dev. Biol. 426, 56–68 (2017).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Kozhemyakina, E. et al. Identification of a Prg4-expressing articular cartilage progenitor cell population in mice. Arthritis Rheumatol. 67, 1261–1273 (2015).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Li, L. et al. Superficial cells are self-renewing chondrocyte progenitors, which form the articular cartilage in juvenile mice. FASEB J. 31, 1067–1084 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Roelofs, A. J. et al. Joint morphogenetic cells in the adult mammalian synovium. Nat. Commun. 8, 15040 (2017).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Rountree, R. B. et al. BMP receptor signaling is required for postnatal maintenance of articular cartilage. PLoS Biol. 2, e355 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Seol, D. et al. Chondrogenic progenitor cells respond to cartilage injury. Arthritis Rheum. 64, 3626–3637 (2012).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors would like to thank Olga Kharchenko for assistance in drawing Figure 1. The work of both authors is supported financially by the Swedish Research Council (grant number 2016–02835), the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden and by a grant from Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University, Russia.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Andrei S. Chagin.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

PowerPoint slides

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Chagin, A., Medvedeva, E. Cartilage stem cells identified, but can they heal?. Nat Rev Rheumatol 13, 522–524 (2017).

Download citation


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing