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J Orthop Res. 2009 Oct;27(10):1392-8. doi: 10.1002/jor.20887.

Mesenchymal stem cells and insulin-like growth factor-I gene-enhanced mesenchymal stem cells improve structural aspects of healing in equine flexor digitorum superficialis tendons.

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Comparative Orthopaedics Laboratory, Department of Clinical Sciences, C3-187 Veterinary Medical Center, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


Tendinitis remains a catastrophic injury among athletes. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have recently been investigated for use in the treatment of tendinitis. Previous work has demonstrated the value of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) to stimulate cellular proliferation and tendon fiber deposition in the core lesion of tendinitis. This study examined the effects of MSCs, as well as IGF-I gene-enhanced MSCs (AdIGF-MSCs) on tendon healing in vivo. Collagenase-induced bilateral tendinitis lesions were created in equine flexor digitorum superficialis tendons (SDFT). Tendons were treated with 10 x 10(6) MSCs or 10 x 10(6) AdIGF-MSCs. Control limbs were injected with 1 mL of phosphate-buffered saline (PBS). Ultrasound examinations were performed at t = 0, 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks. Horses were euthanized at 8 weeks and SDFTs were mechanically tested to failure and evaluated for biochemical composition and histologic characteristics. Expression of collagen types I and III, IGF-I, cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP), matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP-3), matrix metalloproteinase-13 (MMP-13), and aggrecanase-1 (ADAMTS-4) were similar in MSC and control tendons. Both MSC and AdIGF-MSC injection resulted in significantly improved tendon histological scores. These findings indicate a benefit to the use of MSCs and AdIGF-MSCs for the treatment of tendinitis.

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