Injectable Hydrogels for Articular Cartilage and Nucleus Pulposus Repair: Status Quo and Prospects

Bram Zoetebier, Tara C. Schmitz, Keita Ito, Marcel Karperien, Marianna A. Tryfonidou, Julieta I. Paez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
75 Downloads (Pure)


Osteoarthritis (OA) and chronic low back pain due to degenerative (intervertebral) disc disease (DDD) are two of the major causes of disabilities worldwide, affecting hundreds of millions of people and leading to a high socioeconomic burden. Although OA occurs in synovial joints and DDD occurs in cartilaginous joints, the similarities are striking, with both joints showing commonalities in the nature of the tissues and in the degenerative processes during disease. Consequently, repair strategies for articular cartilage (AC) and nucleus pulposus (NP), the core of the intervertebral disc, in the context of OA and DDD share common aspects. One of such tissue engineering approaches is the use of injectable hydrogels for AC and NP repair. In this review, the state-of-the-art and recent developments in injectable hydrogels for repairing, restoring, and regenerating AC tissue suffering from OA and NP tissue in DDD are summarized focusing on cell-free approaches. The various biomaterial strategies exploited for repair of both tissues are compared, and the synergies that could be gained by translating experiences from one tissue to the other are identified. Joints affected by osteoarthritis (OA) and degenerative (intervertebral) disc disease (DDD) share similarities in tissue composition and in the degenerative disease processes. This has led to the development of similar tissue engineering approaches to repair the articular cartilage (AC) and the nucleus pulposus (NP), in the context of OA and DDD, such as injectable hydrogels. In this review, recent developments in injectable hydrogels for repair of AC and NP tissues are summarized, biomaterial strategies are compared, and synergies are identified focusing on cell-free approaches. The summarized developments are expected to inspire more cross talk between both research fields.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)478-499
Number of pages22
JournalTissue Engineering - Part A
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2022


  • articular cartilage
  • biomaterials
  • injectable hydrogels
  • nucleus pulposus
  • translational research
  • 22/3 OA procedure


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