Int J Med Sci 2021; 18(6):1399-1405. doi:10.7150/ijms.52510 This issue

Research Paper

Long-term durable repaired cartilage induced by SOX9 in situ with bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells

Xiaowei Zhang1,2, Shili Wu3, Yong Zhu3, Cong-Qiu Chu1,2✉

1. Division of Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon 97239.
2. Section of Rheumatology, VA Portland Health Care System, Portland, Oregon 97239.
3. Vivoscript, Inc, P. O. Box 63025, Irvine, CA 92602.

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Zhang X, Wu S, Zhu Y, Chu CQ. Long-term durable repaired cartilage induced by SOX9 in situ with bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells. Int J Med Sci 2021; 18(6):1399-1405. doi:10.7150/ijms.52510. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Background: Microfracture is a common procedure for cartilage repair, but it often produces inferior fibrocartilage. We previously reported that a super positively charged SOX9 (scSOX9) promoted hyaline-like cartilage regeneration by inducing bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cell differentiation into chondrocytes in vivo. Here we examined the long-term efficacy of cartilage repair induced by microfracture with scSOX9 by assessing the biomechanical property of the repaired cartilage.

Methods: A cartilage defect was created at the right femoral trochlear groove in New Zealand female rabbits and microfracture was performed. The scSOX9 protein was administered at the site of microfracture incorporated in a collagen membrane.

Results: At 12 and 24 weeks, scSOX9 treatment induced hyaline-like cartilage while collagen-membrane alone induced fibrocartilage and mutant scSOX9-A76E poorly induced cartilage repair. The cartilage matrix in scSOX9-treated group showed highly enriched proteoglycan content. Consistent with the histological feature and the thickness of the repaired cartilage, the mechanical property of scSOX9-induced cartilage was also similar to that of normal cartilage.

Conclusion: This long-term in vivo study demonstrated that in combination with microfracture, scSOX9 was able to induce reparative tissue with features of hyaline cartilage which was durable in long-term. This technology has the potential to translate into clinical use for cartilage repair to prevent progression to osteoarthritis.

Keywords: cartilage repair, collagen membrane, proteoglycan, osteoarthritis