Use of mesenchymal stem cells in a collagen matrix for Achilles tendon repair

J Orthop Res. 1998 Jul;16(4):406-13. doi: 10.1002/jor.1100160403.


This investigation tested the hypothesis that delivering mesenchymal stem cell-seeded implants to a tendon gap model results in significantly improved repair biomechanics. Cultured, autologous, marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells were suspended in a collagen gel delivery vehicle; the cell-gel composite was subsequently contracted onto a pretensioned suture. The resulting tissue prosthesis was then implanted into a 1-cm-long gap defect in the rabbit Achilles tendon. Identical procedures were performed on the contralateral tendon, but only the suture material was implanted. The tendon-implant constructs were evaluated 4, 8, and 12 weeks later by biomechanical and histological criteria. Significantly greater load-related structural and material properties were seen at all time intervals in the mesenchymal stem cell-treated tendons than in the contralateral, treated control repairs (p < 0.05), which contained suture alone with natural cell recruitment. The values were typically twice those for the control tissues at each time interval. Load-related material properties for the treated tissues also increased significantly over time (p < 0.05). The treated tissues had a significantly larger cross-sectional area (p < 0.05), and their collagen fibers appeared to be better aligned than those in the matched controls. The results indicate that delivering mesenchymal stem cell-contracted, organized collagen implants to large tendon defects can significantly improve the biomechanics, structure, and probably the function of the tendon after injury.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / injuries*
  • Achilles Tendon / pathology
  • Achilles Tendon / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Collagen
  • Female
  • Mesoderm / cytology*
  • Rabbits
  • Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Suture Techniques
  • Tendon Injuries / pathology
  • Tendon Injuries / physiopathology
  • Tendon Injuries / surgery*
  • Wound Healing


  • Collagen