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Papers of the Week

Papers: 25 May 2024 - 31 May 2024

2024 Apr 30





Cellular and Structural Changes in Achilles and Patellar Tendinopathies: A Pilot In Vivo Study.


Kouroupis D, Perucca Orfei C, Correa D, Talò G, Libonati F, De Luca P, Raffo V, Best TM, de Girolamo L


Tendinopathies continue to be a challenge for both patients and the medical teams providing care as no universal clinical practice guidelines have been established. In general, tendinopathies are typically characterized by prolonged, localized, activity-related pain with abnormalities in tissue composition, cellularity, and microstructure that may be observed on imaging or histology. In the lower limb, tendinopathies affecting the Achilles and the patellar tendons are the most common, showing a high incidence in athletic populations. Consistent diagnosis and management have been challenged by a lack of universal consensus on the pathophysiology and clinical presentation. Current management is primarily based on symptom relief and often consists of medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, injectable therapies, and exercise regimens that typically emphasize progressive eccentric loading of the affected structures. Implementing the knowledge of tendon stem/progenitor cells (TSPCs) and assessing their potential in enhancing tendon repair could fill an important gap in this regard. In the present pilot in vivo study, we have characterized the structural and cellular alterations that occur soon after tendon insult in models of both Achilles and patellar tendinopathy. Upon injury, CD146 TSPCs are recruited from the interfascicular tendon matrix to the vicinity of the paratenon, whereas the observed reduction in M1 macrophage polarization is related to a greater abundance of reparative CD146 TSPCs in situ. The robust TSPCs’ immunomodulatory effects on macrophages were also demonstrated in in vitro settings where TSPCs can effectively polarize M1 macrophages towards an anti-inflammatory therapeutic M2 phenotype. Although preliminary, our findings suggest CD146 TSPCs as a key phenotype that could be explored in the development of targeted regenerative therapies for tendinopathies.