Reparative strategies for the treatment of injuries to tendons, including those of the rotator cuff of the shoulder, need to address the formation of the cartilage which serves as the attachment apparatus to bone and which forms at regions undergoing compressive loading. Moreover, recent work indicates that cells employed for rotator cuff repair may need to synthesize a lubricating glycoprotein, lubricin, which has recently been found to play a role in tendon tribology. The objective of the present study was to investigate the chondrogenic differentiation and lubricin expression of caprine infraspinatus tendon cells in monolayer and three-dimensional culture, and to compare the behavior with bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). The results demonstrated that while tendon cells in various media, including chondrogenic medium, expressed lubricin, virtually none of the MSCs synthesized this important lubricating molecule. Also of interest was that the cartilage formation capacity of the tendon cells grown in pellet culture in chondrogenic medium was comparable with MSCs. These data inform the use of tendon cells for rotator cuff repair, including for fibrocartilaginous zones.
(c) 2009 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.