Tendinitis is a common and a performance-limiting injury in athletes. This study describes the value of intralesional tendon-derived progenitor cell (TDPC) injections in equine flexor tendinitis. Collagenase-induced tendinitis was created in both front superficial digital flexor (SDF) tendons. Four weeks later, the forelimb tendon lesions were treated with 1 × 107 autogenous TDPCs or saline. Tendinitis was also induced by collagenase in one hind SDF tendon, to study the survival and distribution of DiI-labeled TDPCs 1, 2, 4, and 6 weeks after injection. The remaining normal tendon was used as a “control.” Twelve weeks after forelimb TDPC injections, tendons were harvested for assessment of matrix gene expression, biochemical, biomechanical, and histological characteristics. DiI-labeled TDPCs were abundant 1 week after injection but gradually declined over time and were undetectable after 6 weeks. Twelve weeks after TDPC injection, collagens I and III, COMP and tenomodulin mRNA levels were similar (p = 0.3) in both TDPC and saline groups and higher (p < 0.05) than normal tendon. Yield and maximal stresses of the TDPC group were significantly greater (p = 0.005) than the saline group's and similar (p = 0.6) to normal tendon. However, the elastic modulus of the TDPC and saline groups were not significantly different (p = 0.32). Histological assessment of the repair tissues with Fourier transform-second harmonic generation imaging demonstrated that collagen alignment was significantly better (p = 0.02) in TDPC group than in the saline controls. In summary, treating collagenase-induced flexor tendon lesions with TDPCs improved the tensile strength and collagen fiber alignment of the repair tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2162-2171
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • flexor tendon
  • in vivo
  • tendinitis
  • tendon-derived progenitor cells (TDPCs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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