SOURCE OF STEM CELLS FOR TENDON TREATMENT IDENTIFIED
A ligament within the horse’s mouth could be a good source of stem cells that can support healing in tendons throughout his body, according to a study from Germany.
Undifferentiated cells that can develop into many different types of cells, stem cells are used in regenerative therapies, which seek to promote the body’s own ability to heal. For these therapies, stem cells are injected into a damaged area in the hopes the body will utilize them for repairs.
So far, stem cells derived from bone marrow or adipose (fat) tissue have been used. To find a cell source similar to tendon tissue, researchers have been considering alternatives, including the periodontal ligament (PDL), which anchors a horse’s teeth to his jaws. Like tendon tissues, the PDL must have the strength to withstand
shearing forces but it must also continually adapt as the horse’s teeth erupt over his lifetime.
To determine whether this adaptive quality would make the PDL a good source of stem cells for regenerative tendon therapies, researchers at Justus Liebig University in Giessen collected PDL cell samples from seven mature horses. They also collected tendon cell samples from four mature horses and five foals.
They then analyzed the gene expressions in all the samples, looking for qualities indicative of utility for regenerative therapies. They discovered the mature PDL cells produced significantly more collagen and had higher turnover rates---the speed with which cells die and are replaced---than did mature tendon cells. In addition, the PDLs were found to contain similar levels of scleraxis, which frequently occur in tendon tissues.
Based on these findings, the researchers call for further experiments focusing on the possible use of equine PDL cells for stem cell-based regenerative therapies.
Reference: “Molecular characteristics of the equine periodontal ligament,” Frontiers in Veterinary Science, January 2018
The periodontal ligament (PDL) anchors a horse’s teeth to his jaws.