Background: Tendinopathy of the Achilles tendon is a chronic degenerative condition that frequently does not respond to treatment. In the current study, we propose that autologous tenocytes therapy (ATT) is effective in treating tendon degeneration in a collagenase-induced rabbit Achilles tendinopathy model.
Methods: Chronic tendinopathy was created in the left Achilles tendon of 44 rabbits by an intratendonous injection of type I collagenase. Forty-two rabbits were randomly allocated into three groups of 14 and received control treatment; autologous tenocytes digested from tendon tissue; and autologous tenocytes digested from epitendineum tissue. For cell tracking in vivo, the remaining two animals were injected with autologous tenocytes labeled with a nano-scale super-paramagnetic iron oxide (Feridex). Rabbits were sacrificed at 4 and 8 weeks after the therapeutic injection, and tendon tissue was analyzed by histology, immunostaining, and biomechanical testing to evaluate tissue repair.
Results: Autologous tenocyte treatment improved tendon remodeling, histological outcomes, collagen content, and tensile strength of tendinopathic Achilles tendons. Injected tenocytes were integrated into tendon matrix and could be tracked up to 8 weeks in vivo. Immunohistochemistry showed that ATT improved type I collagen expression in repaired tendon but did not affect type III collagen and secreted protein, acidic and rich in cysteine expression.
Conclusion: ATT may be a useful treatment of chronic Achilles tendinopathy.