Ankle osteoarthritis (AOA) is a severe pathology, mostly affecting a post-traumatic young population. Arthroscopic debridement, arthrodiastasis, osteotomy are the current joint sparing procedures, but, in the available studies, controversial results were achieved, with better outcomes in case of limited degeneration. Only osteotomy in case of malalignment is universally accepted as a joint sparing procedure in case of partial AOA. Recently, the biological mechanism of osteoarthritis has been intensively studied: it is a whole joint pathology, affecting cartilage, bone and synovial membrane. In particular, the first stage is characterized by a reversible catabolic activity with a state of chondropenia. Thus, biological procedures for early AOA were proposed in order to delay or to avoid end stage procedures. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) may be a good solution to prevent or reverse degeneration, due to their immunomodulatory features (able to control the catabolic joint environment) and their regenerative osteochondral capabilities (able to treat the chondral defects). In fact, MSCs may regulate the cytokine cascade and the metalloproteinases release, restoring the osteochondral tissue as well. After interesting reports of mesenchymal stem cells seeded on scaffold and applied to cartilage defects in non-degenerated joints, bone marrow derived cells transplantation appears to be a promising technique in order to control the degenerative pathway and restore the osteochondral defects.
Castagnini, F., Pellegrini, C., Perazzo, L., Vannini, F., & Buda, R. (2016, December 1). Joint sparing treatments in early ankle osteoarthritis: current procedures and future perspectives. Journal of Experimental Orthopaedics. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40634-016-0038-4