Engineered scaffold-free tendon tissue produced by tendon-derived stem cells

Ming Ni, Yun Feng Rui, Qi Tan, Yang Liu, Liang Liang Xu, Kai Ming Chan, Yan Wang, Gang Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most of the exogenous biomaterials for tendon repair have limitations including lower capacity for inducing cell proliferation and differentiation, poorer biocompatibility and remodeling potentials. To avoid these shortcomings, we intend to construct an engineered tendon by stem cells and growth factors without exogenous scaffolds. In this study, we produced an engineered scaffold-free tendon tissue (ESFTT) in vitro and investigated its potentials for neo-tendon formation and promoting tendon healing in vivo. The ESFTT, produced via tendon-derived stem cells (TDSCs) by treatment of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) and ascorbic acid in vitro, was characterized by histology, qRT-PCR and immunohistochemistry methods. After ESFTT implanted into the nude mouse, the in vivo fluorescence imaging, histology and immunohistochemistry examinations showed neo-tendon formation. In a rat patellar tendon window injury model, the histology, immunohistochemistry and biomechanical testing data indicated ESFTT could significantly promote tendon healing. In conclusion, this is a proof-of-concept study demonstrating that ESFTT could be a potentially new approach for tendon repair and regeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2024-2037
Number of pages14
Issue number8
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Cell sheet
  • Connective tissue growth factor
  • Scaffold-free
  • Tendon tissue engineering
  • Tendon-derived stem cells
  • Tenogenic differentiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


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