We have performed a comprehensive analysis of gene-expression profiles in human articular cartilage (hyaline cartilage) and meniscus (fibrocartilage) by means of a cDNA microarray consisting of 23,040 human genes. Comparing the profiles of the two types of cartilage with those of 29 other normal human tissues identified 24 genes that were specifically expressed in both cartilaginous tissues; these genes might be involved in maintaining phenotypes common to cartilage. We also compared the cartilage profiles with gene expression in human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSC), and detected 22 genes that were differentially expressed in cells representing the two cartilaginous lineages, 11 specific to each type, which could serve as markers for predicting the direction of chondrocyte differentiation. Our data should also provide useful information about regeneration of cartilage, especially in support of efforts to identify cartilage-specific molecules as potential agents for therapeutic approaches to joint repair.
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