Observations on the senescence of cells derived from articular cartilage

Christopher H. Evans, Helga I. Georgescu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


In the experiments described here, we have sought to determine whether primary cultures of cells derived from articular cartilage will, upon subsequent subculture, undergo in vitro senescence in a manner analogous to that described for several other types of diploid cell. Using cells from the articular cartilage of rabbits, dogs and man, we have established that the population doubling capacity of cultures of these cells is directly related to the specific lifespan of the donor organism. Furthermore, the doubling capacity of the initial cultures of lapine articular chondrocytes is inversely related to the age of the donor rabbit. By these criteria, serially passaged primary cultures of cells derived from articular cartilage appear, a priori, to be a valid system for studies of cellular ageing. Monolayer cultures of lapine chondrocytes appear to "dedifferentiate" after several passages. However, the same cells can be grown as clones, under which conditions they appear to retain better their differentiated properties. Even under these circumstances, lapine articular chondrocytes have a limited capacity for growth, which can be calculated to approximate to the same average number of cell divisions as undergone by monolayer cultures. Lapine chondrocytes frequently transform into established lines of fibroblastic cells. Transformation of canine chondrocytes was more rare, while human chondrocytes have not been observed to transform. This suggests that resistance to transformation is somehow related to lifespan. In addition to furthering our understanding of cellular ageing, studies of the senescence of articular chondrocytes could provide new insights into the aetiology of primary osteoarthritis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-191
Number of pages13
JournalMechanisms of Ageing and Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1983


  • Cartilage
  • Cell division
  • Cellular senescence
  • Chondrocyte
  • Osteoarthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Developmental Biology


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