Flexor tendon repair in vitro: a comparative histologic study of the rabbit, chicken, dog, and monkey

J Orthop Res. 1984;2(1):39-48. doi: 10.1002/jor.1100020107.


Flexor tendon healing in four different animal species was explored in a tissue culture system. Ninety percent transverse lacerations were made in 88 tendon segments obtained from rabbits, chickens, dogs, and monkeys. The tendons were removed from culture and studied by light and electron microscopy at intervals of 3, 6, 9, and 12 weeks. A characteristic sequence of repair including epitenon thickening, cellular differentiation, cell migration, and phagocytosis was seen in each of the repaired tendons. The endotenon cells of several animal tendons appeared to be synthesizing collagen. There was a consistent difference in the rate of healing between the four species. The rabbit tendons demonstrated nearly complete closure of the repair site by 12 weeks. A lesser response was seen in the chicken, followed by the dog and monkey. The differences in healing rate appeared to be due to the non-species-specific in vitro culture media. The in vitro flexor tendon culture system is particularly useful in studying the tendon repair responses of various species with the contributions of vascularity and synovial cells excluded.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement
  • Chickens / physiology*
  • Culture Media
  • Culture Techniques
  • Dogs / physiology*
  • Female
  • Macaca / physiology*
  • Macaca nemestrina / physiology*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Phagocytosis
  • Rabbits / physiology*
  • Species Specificity
  • Tendon Injuries
  • Tendons / anatomy & histology
  • Tendons / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Wound Healing*


  • Culture Media