Background: This study investigated the effect of mesenchymal stem cell implantation on flexor tendon healing using a rabbit model of flexor tendon repair. Specifically, we compared the difference between autologous and allogeneic stem cells. The influence of cell number on the outcome of flexor tendon healing was also investigated.
Methods: Repaired tendons on the rear paws of rabbits were randomly assigned into four groups: control group, 1 million autologous cells, 1 million allogeneic cells, and 4 million allogeneic cells. Rabbits were sacrificed at 3 or 8 weeks after surgery.
Results: Implantation of 4 million stem cells resulted in a significant increase in range of motion compared with control group at three weeks after surgery. The positive staining of collagen I in healing tendons was enhanced in stem cell treated groups three weeks after surgery. However, stem cells did not improve biomechanical properties of flexor tendons.
Conclusions: High dose stem cells attenuated adhesions in the early time point following flexor tendon repair. Further work is needed determine the value of stem cell therapy in flexor tendon healing in humans.
Keywords: Flexor tendon Injury; Mesenchymal stem cells; Tendon repair.