Age-related cellular and microstructural changes in the rotator cuff enthesis

Zeling Long, Koichi Nakagawa, Zhanwen Wang, Peter C. Amadio, Chunfeng Zhao, Anne Gingery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rotator cuff injuries increase with age. The enthesis is the most frequent site of rotator cuff injury and degeneration. Understanding age-related changes of the enthesis are essential to determine the mechanism of rotator cuff injuries, degeneration, and to guide mechanistically driven therapies. In this study, we explored age-related cellular changes of the rotator cuff enthesis in young, mature, and aged rats. Here we found that the aged enthesis is typified by an increased mineralized zone and decreased nonmineralized zone. Proliferation, migration, and colony-forming potential of rotator cuff derived cells (RCECs) was attenuated with aging. The tenogenic and chondrogenic potential were significantly reduced, while the osteogenic potential increased in aged RCECs. The adipogenic potential increased in RCECs with age. This study explores the cellular differences found between young, mature, and aged rotator cuff enthesis cells and highlights the importance of using age-appropriate models, as well as provides a basis for further delineation of mechanisms and potential therapeutics for rotator cuff injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1883-1895
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • aging
  • chondrogenesis
  • enthesis
  • rotator cuff
  • tenogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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