Improved tendon healing using bFGF, BMP-12 and TGFβ1 in a rat model

M. Majewski, P. Heisterbach, C. Jaquiéry, L. Dürselen, A. Todorov, I. Martin, C. H. Evans, Sebastian A. Müller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Several growth factors (GFs) are expressed as tendons heal, but it remains unknown whether their combined application enhances the healing process. This matter was addressed by applying a combination of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), bone morphogenetic protein 12 (BMP-12) and transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGFβ1) in a rat Achilles tendon transection model. GFs were applied in one of the three following ways: i) direct application of all three factors at the time of surgery; ii) sequential, tiered percutaneous injection of individual factors immediately after surgery, 48 h and 96 h later; iii) load of all three factors onto a collagen sponge implanted at the time of surgery. After 1, 2, 4 and 8 weeks, healing was assessed based on tendon length and thickness, mechanical strength, stiffness and histology. Best results were achieved when GFs were loaded onto a collagen sponge – with a rapid increase in mechanical strength (load to failure, 71.2 N vs. 7.7 N in controls), consistent tendon length over time (9.9 mm vs. 16.2 mm in controls) and faster tendon remodelling, as measured by histology – followed by tiered injection therapy over 96 h. In conclusion, implantation of a GF-loaded collagen sponge could provide a promising treatment, especially in high-performance athletes and revision cases prone to re-rupture. For conservative treatment, tiered percutaneous GF application could be an option for improving clinical outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)318-334
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Cells and Materials
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Achilles tendon
  • Growth factors
  • Rat
  • Tendon engineering
  • Tendon healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Improved tendon healing using bFGF, BMP-12 and TGFβ1 in a rat model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this