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Tissue Eng Part B Rev. 2011 Jun;17(3):165-76. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEB.2010.0662. Epub 2011 Mar 21.

What we should know before using tissue engineering techniques to repair injured tendons: a developmental biology perspective.

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  • 1Division of Developmental Biology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Research Foundation, Cincinnati, Ohio 45229, USA.


Tendons connect muscles to bones, and serve as the transmitters of force that allow all the movements of the body. Tenocytes are the basic cellular units of tendons, and produce the collagens that form the hierarchical fiber system of the tendon. Tendon injuries are common, and difficult to repair, particularly in the case of the insertion of tendon into bone. Successful attempts at cell-based repair therapies will require an understanding of the normal development of tendon tissues, including their differentiated regions such as the fibrous mid-section and fibrocartilaginous insertion site. Many genes are known to be involved in the formation of tendon. However, their functional roles in tendon development have not been fully characterized. Tissue engineers have attempted to generate functional tendon tissue in vitro. However, a lack of knowledge of normal tendon development has hampered these efforts. Here we review studies focusing on the developmental mechanisms of tendon development, and discuss the potential applications of a molecular understanding of tendon development to the treatment of tendon injuries.

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