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Knee osteoarthritis is a severe medical disorder characterized by the gradual deterioration of the knee’s articular cartilage. The articular cartilage is a soft ad flexible material that serves as a lubricant and protects bones from joint friction. Some of the most common symptoms of KO include pain, stiffness, a grating sensation in the affected joints, and loss of flexibility in movement.

The key factors that can increase the risk of KO are older age, obesity, sex (women have a higher chance of developing KO), and repeated joint injuries. KO is a particularly challenging condition to treat as it has proven resistant to medications and surgical procedures. For instance, people who are obese or have other comorbidities may not opt for surgery.

One of the most daunting aspects of treating KO is the regeneration of chondrocytes that make up the cartilage. Chondrocytes are the only cells present in healthy cartilage and generate and maintain the cartilaginous matrix composed of proteoglycans and collagen. Stem cell therapy has emerged as a promising treatment option for KO.

Scientific Research on the Impact of Stem Cell Therapy on KO

Currently, stem cell therapy is being explored as a potent treatment option for KO. Stem cells are specialized human cells that can develop into various cell types ranging from nerve cells to muscle cells. They possess the potential to repair damaged tissues. Researchers believe that mesenchymal stem cell transplantation can repair damaged cartilage in KO. Moreover, bone marrow stem cells have been shown to differentiate when provided an adequate environment and give rise to chondrocytes.

The clinical trials conducted on the efficacy of stem cell therapy have revealed that the MSCs derived from the umbilical cord and amniotic membrane manifest the highest potential for differentiation. The success of stem cell therapy is largely determined by the selection of an appropriate implantation method. In recent trials, scientists have mostly opted for direct implantation of MSCs and MSC stent implantation. Stent implantation involves injecting a carrier for nutrients in the targeted area along with the cells.

The latest research on stem cell therapy for KO shows remarkable results. Repaired tissues treated with MSCs seemed to have better subchondral remodeling, cell arrangement, and integration with the host environment. Furthermore, there was also a significant reduction in stiffness and swelling in the affected joint.

All In All

In a nutshell, it could be said that stem cell therapy has an incredible potential for reducing the progression of KO. As further studies emerge on this treatment option, more people can benefit from it.


Zhao L, Kaye AD, Abd-Elsayed A. Stem Cells for the Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis: A Comprehensive Review. Pain Physician. 2018 May;21(3):229-242. PMID: 29871367.

Han YH, Kim KH, Abdi S, Kim TK. Stem cell therapy in pain medicine. Korean J Pain. 2019 Oct 1;32(4):245-255. doi: 10.3344/kjp.2019.32.4.245. PMID: 31569916; PMCID: PMC6813895.