Cell-based therapy hold great promise for tendon disorders, a widespread debilitating musculoskeletal condition. Even if the cell line remains to be defined, preliminary evidences have proven that amniotic-derived cells possess in vitro and in vivo a great tenogenic potential. The present study investigated the efficacy of transplanted human amniotic epithelial cells (hAECs) by testing their early regenerative properties and mechanisms involved on a validated ovine Achilles tendon partial defect performed on 29 animals. The injured tendons treated with hAECs recovered rapidly, in 28 days, structural and biomechanical properties undertaking a programmed tissue regeneration, differently from the spontaneous healing tissues. Human AECs remained viable within the host tendons establishing with the endogenous progenitor cells an active dialogue. Through the secretion of modulatory factors, hAECs inhibited the inflammatory cells infiltration, activated the M2 macrophage subpopulation early recruitment, and accelerated blood vessel as well extracellular matrix remodeling. In parallel, some in situ differentiated hAECs displayed a tenocyte-like phenotype. Both paracrine and direct hAECs stimulatory effects were confirmed analyzing their genome profile before and after transplantation. The 49 human up regulated transcripts recorded in transplanted hAECs belonged to tendon lineage differentiation (epithelial-mesenchymal transition, connective specific matrix components, skeleton/muscle system development related transcripts), as well as the in situ activation of paracrine signaling involved in inflammatory and immunomodulatory response. Altogether, these evidences support the hypothesis that hAECs are a practicable and efficient strategy for the acute treatment of tendinopathy, reinforcing the idea of a concrete use of AECs towards the clinical practice.
- Cellular therapy
- Gene expression profile
- Human amniotic epithelial cells
- Tissue regeneration