Mesenchymal stem cells in tendon repair and regeneration: basic understanding and translational challenges

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2016 Nov;1383(1):88-96. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13262. Epub 2016 Oct 5.


Tendon injuries are common and present a clinical challenge because they often respond poorly to treatment and require prolonged rehabilitation. Current treatments often do not completely repair or regenerate the injured or diseased tendon to its native composition, structure, and mechanical properties. Stem cell-based therapies have brought new hope for tissue repair and regeneration, including that for tendon rupture and tendinopathy. Despite tremendous effort and progress, the success of stem cell-based studies on tendon repair and regeneration has mainly been limited to preclinical studies with few clinical applications. In this concise review, we discuss basic understanding and translational challenges of using mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) for tendon repair and regeneration, with a focus on (1) tendon stem/progenitor cells (TSPCs) and therapeutic approaches using TSPCs and other MSCs, (2) regulation of fate determination in MSCs for tendon-lineage differentiation, (3) pretreatment and condition of stem/progenitor cells for transplantation, and (4) a treatment approach that involves stimulating endogenous stem cells to enhance tendon healing. The review concludes with discussion on future directions.

Keywords: MSC; TSPC; mesenchymal stem cells; tendinopathy; tendon rupture; tendon stem/progenitor cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Comprehension
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation / trends
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / physiology
  • Regeneration / physiology*
  • Tendon Injuries / pathology
  • Tendon Injuries / therapy*
  • Tendons / physiology*
  • Tendons / transplantation*
  • Tissue Scaffolds
  • Translational Medical Research / methods*
  • Translational Medical Research / trends