Research highlight

Tissue regeneration: Healing Achilles’ heel

Scientific Reports

July 3, 2014

A method for treating tendon injuries in mice is published in this week’s Scientific Reports. The research compares fetal and adult mouse fibroblasts (connective tissue cells) for the fabrication of engineered tendons, and finds that tendon tissue regeneration is enhanced when using fetal cells rather than adult cells.

Tendon healing is often accompanied by the formation of a scar that impairs mechanical strength of the tissue. Adult tendons do not heal by a regenerative process, whereas fetal tendons can heal in a regenerative fashion without scar formation. Thus, Xiao Chen and colleagues investigated whether fetal cells may be suitable seed cells for tissue engineering approaches to tendon healing. They demonstrate that treatment of damaged mouse Achilles tendons with tissues engineered from fetal fibroblasts resulted in better structural and mechanical properties compared with tissues generated from adult fibroblasts.

The authors note that some issues need to be overcome before applying this technique to human cells, as suitable human fetal fibroblasts are difficult to obtain. They suggest that further investigations are needed to understand how fetal fibroblasts improve tissue regeneration. This information may assist in the development of future strategies to treat tendon injuries.

doi: 10.1038/srep05515

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