Growth factors and canine flexor tendon healing: initial studies in uninjured and repair models

J Hand Surg Am. 1995 Jul;20(4):645-9. doi: 10.1016/S0363-5023(05)80284-9.


The role of growth factors in a variety of bone and soft tissue healing processes has been studied extensively in numerous recent models, yet little is known about the specific growth factors that may be playing a role in flexor tendon healing. We used a number of established protein purification techniques and bioassays to isolate and partially characterize a heparin-binding growth factor from unoperated canine tendons. Our data provide evidence that basic fibroblast growth factor, a potent angiogenic growth factor, is present in normal canine intrasynovial flexor tendons. We then studied repaired canine flexor tendons to further elucidate the role of growth factors in the tendon healing process. Heparin-sepharose elution profiles from three repair intervals (3, 10, and 17 days) were graphed and compared to known profiles of isolated growth factors. The three repair intervals demonstrated two elution profile peaks, consistent with varying amounts of platelet-derived growth factor and epidermal growth factor. Although additional experimentation is required to identify definitively the various protein isolates, these data provide compelling evidence that a variety of growth factors are present in uninjured and healing digital flexor tendons.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Animals
  • Dogs
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / analysis
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / physiology*
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / analysis
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / physiology
  • Mice
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor / analysis
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor / physiology*
  • Tendon Injuries* / physiopathology*
  • Tendons / chemistry
  • Tendons / physiopathology
  • Wound Healing / physiology*


  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2
  • Epidermal Growth Factor