Document Type


Publication Date



This article provides a brief review of the pathophysiology of osteoarthritis and the ontogeny of chondrocytes and details how physical exercise improves the health of osteoarthritic joints and enhances the potential of autologous chondrocyte implants, matrix-induced autologous chondrocyte implants, and mesenchymal stem cell implants for the successful treatment of damaged articular cartilage and subchondral bone. In response to exercise, articular chondrocytes increase their production of glycosaminoglycans, bone morphogenic proteins, and anti-inflammatory cytokines and decrease their production of proinflammatory cytokines and matrix-degrading metalloproteinases. These changes are associated with improvements in cartilage organization and reductions in cartilage degeneration. Studies in humans indicate that exercise enhances joint recruitment of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells and upregulates their expression of osteogenic and chondrogenic genes, osteogenic microRNAs, and osteogenic growth factors. Rodent experiments demonstrate that exercise enhances the osteogenic potential of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells while diminishing their adipogenic potential, and that exercise done after stem cell implantation may benefit stem cell transplant viability. Physical exercise also exerts a beneficial effect on the skeletal system by decreasing immune cell production of osteoclastogenic cytokines interleukin-1β, tumor necrosis factor-α, and interferon-γ, while increasing their production of antiosteoclastogenic cytokines interleukin-10 and transforming growth factor-β. In conclusion, physical exercise done both by bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cell donors and recipients and by autologous chondrocyte donor recipients may improve the outcome of osteochondral regeneration therapy and improve skeletal health by downregulating osteoclastogenic cytokine production and upregulating antiosteoclastogenic cytokine production by circulating immune cells.

Copyright Statement

© 2020 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.