Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Human pluripotent stem cell-derived cartilaginous organoids promote scaffold-free healing of critical size long bone defects

Tam, Wai Long; Freitas Mendes, Luís; Chen, Xike; Lesage, Raphaëlle; Van Hoven, Inge; Leysen, Elke; Kerckhofs, Greet; Bosmans, Kathleen; Chai, Yoke Chin; Yamashita, Akihiro; Tsumaki, Noriyuki; Geris, Liesbet; Roberts, Scott J.; Luyten, Frank P.


Wai Long Tam

Luís Freitas Mendes

Xike Chen

Raphaëlle Lesage

Inge Van Hoven

Elke Leysen

Greet Kerckhofs

Kathleen Bosmans

Yoke Chin Chai

Akihiro Yamashita

Noriyuki Tsumaki

Liesbet Geris

Scott J. Roberts

Frank P. Luyten


Bones have a remarkable capacity to heal upon fracture. Yet, in large defects or compromised conditions healing processes become impaired, resulting in delayed or non-union. Current therapeutic approaches often utilize autologous or allogeneic bone grafts for bone augmentation. However, limited availability of these tissues and lack of predictive biological response result in limitations for clinical demands. Tissue engineering using viable cell-based implants is a strategic approach to address these unmet medical needs.

Herein, the in vitro and in vivo cartilage and bone tissue formation potencies of human pluripotent stem cells were investigated. The induced pluripotent stem cells were specified towards the mesodermal lineage and differentiated towards chondrocytes, which subsequently self-assembled into cartilaginous organoids. The tissue formation capacity of these organoids was then challenged in an ectopic and orthotopic bone formation model.

The derived chondrocytes expressed similar levels of collagen type II as primary human articular chondrocytes and produced stable cartilage when implanted ectopically in vivo. Upon targeted promotion towards hypertrophy and priming with a proinflammatory mediator, the organoids mediated successful bridging of critical size long bone defects in immunocompromised mice.

These results highlight the promise of induced pluripotent stem cell technology for the creation of functional cartilage tissue intermediates that can be explored for novel bone healing strategies.


Tam, W. L., Freitas Mendes, L., Chen, X., Lesage, R., Van Hoven, I., Leysen, E., …Luyten, F. P. (2021). Human pluripotent stem cell-derived cartilaginous organoids promote scaffold-free healing of critical size long bone defects. Stem Cell Research and Therapy, 12(1),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 20, 2021
Online Publication Date Sep 25, 2021
Publication Date Sep 25, 2021
Deposit Date Oct 4, 2021
Publicly Available Date Oct 4, 2021
Journal Stem Cell Research & Therapy
Print ISSN 1757-6512
Publisher BioMed Central
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 1
Keywords Cell Biology; Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous); Molecular Medicine; Medicine (miscellaneous)
Public URL
Additional Information Received: 12 March 2021; Accepted: 20 August 2021; First Online: 25 September 2021; : ; : Informed consent has been obtained from the donor of the embryo/tissue from which the pluripotent stem cells have been derived. The animal experimental procedures were approved by the local ethical committee for animal research (KU Leuven). The animals were housed according to the guidelines provided by the Animalium Leuven (KU Leuven).; : Not applicable.; : The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


You might also like

Downloadable Citations