The adverse symptoms of the degenerative disease osteoarthritis include progressive cartilage degradation. The Center for Regenerative Medicine is investigating the therapeutic potential of extracellular vesicles that are released by stem cells of the Hoffa’s fat pad in order to develop a cell-free therapy option.

As in recent years the frequency of osteoarthritis has increased considerably, new therapeutic approaches for cartilage regeneration are coming into the focus of orthopedic research. Stem cells have become a promising cell source for cartilage repair due to their modulatory properties. But besides the benefits of using stem cells, drawbacks also occurred such as cell rejection after transplantation into the cartilage defect, limited cell survival after injection, and the inability to predict long-term cell behavior and interactions with other cells.

In order to circumvent these disadvantages cell-free alternatives are needed that harbour the desired properties of stem cells.

For this reason, the Center for Regenerative Medicine, headed by Prof. Dr. Stefan Nehrer, is investigating the therapeutic potential of extracellular vesicles. Extracellular vesicles are used for intercellular communication and are secreted by cells and taken up by target cells. They mediate therapeutic signals that play a role in a large number of diseases such as cancer, sepsis, rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.


Evaluating the therapeutic potential

" This research project focuses on the therapeutic potential of extracellular vesicles secreted by mesenchymal stem cells of the Hoffa’s fat pad," says Ass.-Prof. Andrea De Luna, PhD.

The Hoffa´s fat pad is located intra-articularly behind and under the patella. Due to their proximity to the cartilage, mesenchymal stem cells from this adipose tissue are more involved in the development and progression of osteoarthritis.

"The focus lies on the effects of these extracellular vesicles on various processes occurring during osteoarthritis and the influence of blood products such as platelet rich plasma (PRP) on mesenchymal stem cells of the Hoffa’s fat pad and its extracellular vesicles," explains Andrea De Luna, an expert in osteoarthritis.

Extracellular vesicles from Hoffa´s fat pad- a new strategy for cartilage regeneration

Duration: 01.01.2020 – 31.12.2022

Funding: Federal States (including their foundations and institutions)

Principle investigator for the project: Ass.Prof. Mag. Andrea De Luna, Ph.D.



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