Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: Tendons heal by fibrotic repair, increasing the likelihood of reinjury. Animal tendon injury and overuse models have identified transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) and bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) as growth factors actively involved in the development of fibrosis, by mediating extracellular matrix synthesis and cell differentiation. PURPOSE: To understand how TGF-β and BMPs contribute to fibrotic processes using tendon-derived cells isolated from healthy and diseased human tendons. STUDY DESIGN: Controlled laboratory study. METHODS: Tendon-derived cells were isolated from patients with a chronic rotator cuff tendon tear (large to massive, diseased) and healthy hamstring tendons of patients undergoing anterior cruciate ligament repair. Isolated cells were incubated with TGF-β1 (10 ng/mL) or BMP-2 (100 ng/mL) for 3 days. Gene expression was measured by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Cell signaling pathway activation was determined by Western blotting. RESULTS: TGF-β1 treatment induced ACAN mRNA expression in both cell types but less in the diseased compared with healthy cells (P < .05). BMP-2 treatment induced BGN mRNA expression in healthy but not diseased cells (P < .01). In the diseased cells, TGF-β1 treatment induced increased ACTA2 mRNA expression (P < .01) and increased small mothers against decapentaplegic (SMAD) signaling (P < .05) compared with those of healthy cells. Moreover, BMP-2 treatment induced ACTA2 mRNA expression in the diseased cells only (P < .05). CONCLUSION: Diseased tendon-derived cells show reduced expression of the proteoglycans aggrecan and biglycan in response to TGF-β1 and BMP-2 treatments. These same treatments induced enhanced fibrotic differentiation and canonical SMAD cell signaling in diseased compared with healthy cells. CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Findings from this study suggest that diseased tendon-derived cells respond differently than healthy cells in the presence of TGF-β1 and BMP-2. The altered responses of diseased cells may influence fibrotic repair processes during tendon healing.

Original publication




Journal article


Am J Sports Med

Publication Date





1892 - 1903


biology of tendon, cell/molecular biology, rotator cuff, shoulder, tendinosis, Animals, Bone Morphogenetic Proteins, Cells, Cultured, Humans, Rotator Cuff, Tendons, Transforming Growth Factor beta, Transforming Growth Factor beta1