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Accueil du site > Equipes > Biologie et Ingénierie du Cartilage (F. Mallein-Gerin) > Biology and engineering of cartilage

Biology and engineering of cartilage


Cartilage has two general roles : during development, cartilage represents a necessary but transitory step, shaping a model of the skeleton. In the adult organism, cartilage is a permanent tissue of outstanding biomechanical properties, providing joints with elasticity and high mechanical stability. However, articular cartilage is not vascularized and presents poor intrinsic healing potential. Consequently, traumatic and degenerative lesions of articular cartilage eventually progress to osteoarthritis, a worldwide leading source of disability.

Regarding cartilage repair, common surgical treatments (microfracture, mosaicplasty) are not satisfactory, since often leading to the production of fibrocartilage which does not present the biomechanical properties of articular cartilage. Joint replacement is a short-term therapy because knee prostheses have limited life spans, which is a problem for young people. In this context, the regeneration of cartilage requires cell therapy and tissue engineering techniques. In order to reconstruct good-quality cartilage, it is important to have a good understanding of the cellular and molecular events which control chondrocyte differentiation and cartilage development. Interestingly, many cellular and molecular events occurring during fetal cartilage formation illegitimately take place in osteoarthritic cartilage (figure 1).

Figure 1 : illustration of our approach integrating diverse aspects of the chondrocyte physiology. Several molecular and cellular events occuring during endochondral ossification illegitimely take place in osteoarthritic articular cartilage in adult life (for instance matrix degradation). Therefore the understanding of all these events helps to set up new strategies for cell therapy and tissue engineering of cartilage


Our group takes advantage of its long-term studies on chondrocyte differentiation and cartilage development to set up new protocols to repair cartilage, in collaboration with hospitals and industries. More specifically, we analyze : 

The signaling events triggered by bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-2 and transforming growth factor (TGF)-ß1 (E. Aubert-Foucher)

The pathways of mechanotransduction (E. Perrier-Groult)

The signaling pathways under the control of hypoxia, physiological condition of normal cartilage (J. Lafont)

The influence of diverse tridimensional matrices and biomaterials on the chondrocyte phenotype (E. Perrier-Groult)

The pathophysiology and regeneration of the pulpodental complex (J-C. Farges)

The characteristics of diverse sources of mesenchymal stem cells and their potential to differentiate into skeletal lineages (F. Mallein-Gerin)

Keywords : cartilage, chondrocytes, mechanotransduction, BMP-2 signaling, hypoxia, tissue engineering, pulpodental complex, stem cells


Team Cartilage Biology and Engineering
Laboratory of tissue biology and therapeutic engineering - UMR 5305, CNRS
Institute for Biology and Chemistry of Proteins
7, passage du Vercors
 69367 Lyon cédex 07

E-mail :

Tel : +33 (0)4-37-65-29-19

Fax : +33 (0)4-72-72-26-04

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