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J Hand Surg Am. 2008 Dec;33(10):1843-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2008.07.020.

Effect of interleukin-10 overexpression on the properties of healing tendon in a murine patellar tendon model.

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  • 1McKay Orthopaedic Research Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.



Interleukin-10 (IL-10) is a potent anti-inflammatory cytokine shown to inhibit scar formation in fetal wound healing. The role of IL-10 in adult tendon healing and scar formation, however, remains unknown. The objective of this study is to investigate the effect of IL-10 overexpression on the properties of adult healing tendon using a well-established murine model of tendon injury and a lentiviral-mediated method of IL-10 overexpression.


A murine model of patellar tendon injury was used and animals divided into 3 groups. Mice received bilateral patellar tendon injections with a lentiviral vector containing an IL-10 transgene (n = 34) or no transgene (n = 34). Control mice (n = 34) received injections of sterile saline. All animals then were subjected to bilateral, central patellar tendon injuries 2 days after injection and were killed at 5, 10, 21, and 42 days after injury. IL-10 content was analyzed by immunohistochemistry (n = 4/group). Tendon healing was evaluated by histology (n = 4/group) and biomechanical analysis (n = 10/group).


Overexpression of IL-10 in patellar tendon was confirmed after injection of the lentiviral vector. IL-10 immunostaining was increased at day 10 in the IL-10 group relative to that in controls. Histologically, there was no significant difference in angular deviation between groups at day 21, but a trend toward decreased angular deviation in controls relative to that in empty vector group mice was seen at day 42. Biomechanically, the IL-10 group showed significantly increased maximum stress at day 42 relative to that in controls. Percent relaxation showed a trend toward an increase at day 10 and a significant increase at day 42 in the IL-10 group relative to that in controls.


This study demonstrates successful gene transfer of IL-10 into adult murine patellar tendon using a lentiviral vector. Although the effects of overexpression of IL-10 on adult tendon healing have not yet been fully elucidated, the current study may help to further clarify the mechanisms of tendon injury and repair.

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