Stem Cells In Tendons That Regenerate Tissue

Athletes know that damage to a tendon can signal an end to their professional careers. But a consortium of scientists, led in part by USC School of Dentistry researcher Songtao Shi, has identified unique cells within the adult tendon that have stem-cell characteristicsÑžincluding the ability to proliferate and self-renew. The research team was able to isolate these cells and regenerate tendon-like tissue in the animal model. Their findings hold tremendous promise for the treatment of tendon injuries caused by overuse and trauma.
Tendons, the tough band of specialized tissues that connect bone to muscle, are comprised of strong collagen fibrils that transmit force allowing the body to move. Tendon injuries are a common clinical problem as damaged tendon tissue heals slowly and rarely regains the integrity or strength of a normal, undamaged tendon.
Prior to this research, little existed on the cellular makeup of tendons and their precursors. By looking at tendons at the molecular level, the research team identified a unique cell populationÒ‘termed tendon stem/progenitor cells (TSPCs) in both mice and adult humansÒ‘that when guided by a certain molecular environment, form into tendon cells.