Despite tremendous advances in the field of regenerative medicine, it still remains challenging to repair the osteochondral interface and full-thickness articular cartilage defects. This inefficiency largely originates from the lack of appropriate tissue-engineered artificial matrices that can replace the damaged regions and promote tissue regeneration. Hydrogels are emerging as a promising class of biomaterials for both soft and hard tissue regeneration. Many critical properties of hydrogels, such as mechanical stiffness, elasticity, water content, bioactivity, and degradation, can be rationally designed and conveniently tuned by proper selection of the material and chemistry. Particularly, advances in the development of cell-laden hydrogels have opened up new possibilities for cell therapy. In this article, we describe the problems encountered in this field and review recent progress in designing cell-hydrogel hybrid constructs for promoting the reestablishment of osteochondral/cartilage tissues. Our focus centers on the effects of hydrogel type, cell type, and growth factor delivery on achieving efficient chondrogenesis and osteogenesis. We give our perspective on developing next-generation matrices with improved physical and biological properties for osteochondral/cartilage tissue engineering. We also highlight recent advances in biomanufacturing technologies (e.g. molding, bioprinting, and assembly) for fabrication of hydrogel-based osteochondral and cartilage constructs with complex compositions and microarchitectures to mimic their native counterparts.
Keywords : Cell-laden hydrogels; Osteochondral tissue engineering; Cartilage tissue engineering; Stem cells