Articular cartilage pathology is common in the aged population. Numerous studies have shown that aged chondrocytes (CHs) are inferior to juvenile CHs in their ability to proliferate and produce cartilage-specific extracellular matrix proteins, potentially limiting their use in tissue engineering applications for cartilage restoration [1,2]. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are an alternative cell type that can be expanded in vitro while maintaining their ability to differentiate into cell types comparable to articular chondrocytes. However, organismal aging also influences human MSC proliferation [3,4] and multi-potential differentiation [5], though for chondrogenesis these findings are mixed, with some suggesting that aged progenitor cells retain their chondrogenic capacity [6]. The objective of this study was to assess age related differences in donor-matched CH and MSC potential for chondrogenic repair. In addition, the effects of the chondrogenic growth factor TGF-β3 on CHs and MSCs were evaluated.

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