Influence of local chemokine delivery and postoperative peripheral blood mobilization on Achilles tendon repair

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Foot & Ankle Orthopaedics



Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have demonstrated promise in augmenting the surgical repair of full thickness tendon tears. Despite this promise, obtaining a therapeutic concentration of MSCs is time-, labor- and resource intensive, and is subject to ever-tightening governmental regulations. Our group recently demonstrated that postoperative mobilization of MSCs from the marrow compartment and into peripheral blood via subcutaneous granulocyte- colony stimulating factor administration enhanced tendon-bone healing in a rat model of surgical repair of a full-thickness supraspinatus tendon tear. We hypothesized that combining postoperative stem cell mobilization with local delivery of a chemokine that stimulates MSC chemotaxis would enhance the surgical repair of a mid-substance Achilles tendon transection.


Following IACUC approval, Achilles tendons were unilaterally frayed via multiple longitudinal scalpel blade nicks in 24 Lewis rats. Tendons were then surgically transected, followed by repair with braided non-absorbable suture in a modified-Kessler pattern. Based on randomization (n=6/group), the tendon anastomosis was coated with a resorbable chitosan hydrogel containing 100 ng of the chemokine, CCL5 (RANTES), or hydrogel without RANTES. Skin closure and anesthesia recovery were then performed; rats were allowed ad libitum activity. Beginning 24 hours postoperatively, rats received a daily subcutaneous injection of either a peripheral blood mobilizing agent, AMD3100 (5 mg/kg), or saline; dosing was repeated at 48 and 72 hours. At the 4- week endpoint, Achilles tendons harvested en bloc. Decalcified histologic sections were stained with H&E and Alcian Blue as well as immunostained for Collagen III, CD163, and CD68. Slides were digitized (40x magnification) and graded by blinded reviewers via modified-Bonar score to assess tendon integrity.


Rats that received local application of RANTES-loaded chitosan hydrogel had worse (higher) modified-Bonar subscores with respect to tenocyte morphology, collagen orientation, and ground substance staining, though none of these comparisons were statistically significant (p=0.068, p=0.672, and p=0.407, respectively). Animals that received subcutaneous AMD3100 alone, or in conjunction with RANTES-loaded chitosan hydrogel displayed the best (lowest) total modified Bonar scores, though these comparisons were also not statistically significant (p = 0.498). No significant differences were found with respect to CD163 (p=0.132) and CD68 (p=0.104) staining. Despite a lack of statistical significance, animals that received AMD3100 displayed a higher number of both macrophage subtypes. No differences were found with respect to Collagen III immunostaining (p=0.808).


Tendon repair and regeneration remains a significant clinical challenge, which may be aided by MSC transplantation. The mobilization of endogenous marrow-derived MSCs into peripheral blood and subsequent recruitment via local chemokine delivery may be an efficacious way to enhance tendon repair without the need for ex vivo processing. We failed to demonstrate significant effects of stem cell mobilization via AMD3100 injections, and chemokine-directed recruitment, though trends were present indicating that AMD3100 alone may be beneficial. Additional work is required to draw any translatable conclusions from this research.





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American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society Annual Meeting, September 22-25, 2021, Charlotte, NC.