Assessing the functional properties of tenogenic primed mesenchymal stem cells in ex vivo equine tendon and ligament explants: A preliminary study

Stem Cell Res. 2022 Dec:65:102963. doi: 10.1016/j.scr.2022.102963. Epub 2022 Nov 12.


Injuries to equine tendons and ligaments are career-compromising, causing reduced performance and premature retirement. Promising treatment alternatives have been investigated in the field of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). In this study, the tissue adherence and protein expression of tenogenic primed mesenchymal stem cells (tpMSCs) after administration to ex vivo tendon and ligament explants is investigated. First, collagen type I (COL I) and smooth muscle actin (SMA) expression was assessed in cytospins prepared from native MSCs and tpMSCs. Second, equine superficial digital flexor tendon and suspensory ligament explants were cultivated, and a lesion was treated with both cell types. Subsequently, cell adhesion to the explants and the amount of COL I and SMA positive cells was evaluated. The cytospins revealed a significantly higher COL I and lower SMA expression in tpMSCs compared to native MSCs. In the explants, tpMSCs showed a significantly higher tendon and ligament adherence. Furthermore, a significantly higher percentage of COL I positive and a lower percentage of SMA positive cells were observed in the lesions treated with tpMSCs. The results of these explant co-cultures may demonstrate at least a part of the mechanism of action and functional properties of tpMSCs in restoring function to tendons and ligaments.

Keywords: Collagen type I; Equine; Smooth muscle actin; Tendon explant; Tenogenic primed mesenchymal stem cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Horses
  • Ligaments*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells*