Chondrocytes: Definition, Function, Role in Cartilage, Chondrocyte Transplantation and Treatment of Chondral Lesions

They are cells found in the connective tissue of cartilage.

The number of chondrocytes found in the cartilage determines how “flexible” the cartilage is. When looking through a microscope, chondrocytes are similar to eyeballs that float on the viscous substance.

Chondrocyte function

So what exactly do chondrocytes do? As chondrocytes are the only cells located in cartilage, they produce and maintain the cartilage matrix . So what is a cartilage matrix? If you look at the name ‘chondrocyte in the lagoons’, that’s exactly what the matrix is: a type of lake that chondrocytes swim in.

This may lead you to wonder why cartilage is important in the first place. One of the main functions of some types of cartilage is to prevent the bones from rubbing together. We call this reducing friction. Imagine rubbing two pieces of sandpaper together.

The pieces of sand on the paper rub against each other, and after a while you get a lot of dust, right? Imagine that the two pieces of sandpaper were the ends of your bones. That would start to hurt.

Now imagine placing a piece of plain paper between the two pieces of sandpaper. Now the friction is reduced and the sandpaper moves much more easily.

The skeleton gives our body the framework and strength and the cartilage is what gives us flexibility and elasticity. Chondrocytes are an inseparable part of the connective tissue of cartilage and are surrounded by the extensive intracellular matrix.

These chondrocytes are produced singly or in isogenic groups or comprise 2 to 8 cells produced during single chondrocyte mitosis. You do not have access to view this node.

The cells of the chondrocytes are placed in the cavities of the lacunae within the womb. These are also called mature cartilage cells. These mature cells turn round to form clumps and are present in the inner cartilage as clumps.

What is the role of chondrocytes in cartilage?

Chondrocytes allow fluid exchange between the gelatinous layers that make up cartilage. This exchange provides nutrition to the cartilage and also provides for the removal of waste materials. Chondrocyte cells initially arise as stem cells in the bone marrow.

These cells then divide into different types of cells as per requirement. Stem cells are initially formed in chondroblasts that produce a special secretion called Chondrin that actively builds and repairs cartilage.

The composition of these cells also depends on the type of cartilage cells that are present and can be in the form of elastic, fibrocartilage or hyaline so as to meet the requirements of that particular type of cartilage.

As chondroblasts mature they turn into round chondrocytes that can be traced into the gaps in the gaps.

When cartilage is damaged for any reason, chondrocytes replace the damaged tissue and begin to heal the damaged area. But many times, like old age, repair is not possible and therefore surgery is recommended. But generally speaking, chondrocytes do repair cartilage wear.

What is chondrocyte transplantation?

Cartilage wear is often impossible to repair naturally. The instability of the knee due to the absence of meniscal tissue on the joint surface is due to the large amount of cartilage wear.

Since the repair capacity of articular cartilage is low, articular cartilage injury that does not penetrate deep into the subchondral bone does not heal quickly and can lead to cartilage degeneration on the articular surface.

In such cases, the cellular process of implantation of autologous chondrocytes is known to stimulate cartilage growth.

Being cartilage metabolic power plants, chondrocytes constantly produce intercellular matrix. But once they mature, they continue their metabolic activity, but their ability to reproduce decreases.

Intensive research in this field has made possible chondrocyte transplantation which can effectively repair joint damage by introducing young chondrocytes.

Autologous Chondrocyte Transplantation (TAC) is approved by the Department of Food and Drug Administration and is the first successful biotechnology application in the field of orthopedics.

Does autologous chondrocyte transplantation treat chondral lesions?

Autologous cultured chondrocyte implantation was first carried out in Sweden in 1987 and in 1995 it was first tested in the USA.

Data collected from more than 583 international centers revealed that this implantation provided pain relief and improved function. It also showed that the implantation of autologous cultured chondrocytes was effective in treating full-thickness chondral lesions present in the trochlear and femoral condyles.