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Stem Cells International
Volume 2018, Article ID 2613821, 12 pages
Research Article

Tendon-Derived Stem Cell Differentiation in the Degenerative Tendon Microenvironment

1Center for Translational Medicine Research and Development, Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenzhen 518000, China
2Central Laboratory, Dalian Municipal Central Hospital, Dalian 116033, China
3Institute of Orthopaedics, Soochow University, Suzhou 215007, China
4Shenzhen People’s Hospital, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Yu-long Sun; moc.oohay@gnoluynus

Received 23 April 2018; Accepted 26 July 2018; Published 28 October 2018

Academic Editor: Stan Gronthos

Copyright © 2018 Chang Liu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Tendinopathy is prevalent in athletic and many occupational populations; nevertheless, the pathogenesis of tendinopathy remains unclear. Tendon-derived stem cells (TDSCs) were regarded as the key culprit for the development of tendinopathy. However, it is uncertain how TDSCs differentiate into adipocytes, chondrocytes, or osteocytes in the degenerative microenvironment of tendinopathy. So in this study, the regulating effects of the degenerative tendon microenvironment on differentiation of TDSCs were investigated. TDSCs were isolated from rat Achilles tendons and were grown on normal and degenerative (prepared by stress-deprived culture) decellularized tendon slices (DTSs). Immunofluorescence staining, H&E staining, real-time PCR, and Western blot were used to delineate the morphology, proliferation, and differentiation of TDSCs in the degenerative microenvironment. It was found that TDSCs were much more spread on the degenerative DTSs than those on normal DTSs. The tenocyte-related markers, COL1 and TNMD, were highly expressed on normal DTSs than the degenerative DTSs. The expression of chondrogenic and osteogenic markers, COL2, SOX9, Runx2, and ALP, was higher on the degenerative DTSs compared with TDSCs on normal DTSs. Furthermore, phosphorylated FAK and ERK1/2 were reduced on degenerative DTSs. In conclusion, this study found that the degenerative tendon microenvironment induced TDSCs to differentiate into chondrogenic and osteogenic lineages. It could be attributed to the cell morphology changes and reduced FAK and ERK1/2 activation in the degenerative microenvironment of tendinopathy.