Tendons are difficult to heal owing to their hypocellularity and hypovascularity. Our laboratory has developed a tendon-derived hydrogel (tHG) that significantly improves tendon healing in an animal model. We hypothesized that a potential mechanism for improved healing with tHG is through the attraction of systemic stem cells.
Homing of systemic adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs) to tendon injuries was assessed with acute and chronic injury models. Injury sites were treated with saline or tHG, and animals given a tail vein injection (TVI) of labeled ADSCs 1 week after treatment. One week following TVI, rats were harvested for histology. To further evaluate a potential difference in homing to tHG, a subcutaneous injection (SQI) model was used. Rats were treated with an SQI of saline, silicone, ADSCs in media, tHG, tHG + fibroblasts (FBs), or tHG + ADSCs on day 0. One week after SQI, rats underwent TVI with labeled ADSCs. Samples were harvested 2 or 3 weeks after SQI for analysis. Flow cytometry confirmed homing in the SQI model.
Systemically delivered ADSCs homed to both acute tendon and chronic tendon-bone interface (TBI) injury sites. Despite their presence at the injury site, there was no difference in the number of macrophages, amount of cell proliferation, or angiogenesis 1 week after stem cell delivery. In an SQI model, ADSCs homed to tHG. There was no difference in the number of ADSCs homing to tHG alone versus tHG + ADSCs. However, there was an increase in the number of living cells, general immune cells, and T-cells present at tHG + ADSC versus tHG alone.
The ADSCs home to tendon injury sites and tHG. We believe the attraction of additional systemic ADSCs is one mechanism for improved tendon and TBI healing with tHG.
Treatment of tendon and TBI injuries with tHG can augment healing via homing of systemic stem cells.
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Published online: June 27, 2020
Accepted: May 7, 2020
Received: August 17, 2019
No benefits in any form have been received or will be received related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.
© 2020 by the American Society for Surgery of the Hand. All rights reserved.