Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Intra-synovial tendon injuries are a common orthopedic problem with limited treatment options. The synovium is a specialized connective tissue forming the inner encapsulating lining of diarthrodial joints and intra-synovial tendons. It contains multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells that render it a viable source of progenitors for tendon repair. This study evaluated the effects of autologous implantation of cells derived from normal synovium (synovial membrane cells [SMCs]) in augmenting repair in an ovine model of intra-synovial tendon injury. For this purpose, synovial biopsies were taken from the right digital flexor tendon sheath following creation of a defect to the lateral deep digital flexor tendon. Mononuclear cells were isolated by partial enzymatic digestion and assessed for MSC characteristics. Cell tracking and tendon repair were assessed by implanting 5 × 106 cells into the digital flexor tendon sheath under ultrasound guidance with the effects evaluated using magnetic resonance imaging and histopathology. Synovial biopsies yielded an average 4.0 × 105  ± 2.7 × 105 SMCs that exhibited a fibroblastic morphology, variable osteogenic, and adipogenic responses but were ubiquitously strongly chondrogenic. SMCs displayed high expression of CD29 with CD271NEGATIVE and MHC-IILOW cell-surface marker profiles, and variable expression of CD73, CD90, CD105, CD166, and MHC-I. Implanted SMCs demonstrated engraftment within the synovium, though a lack of repair of the tendon lesion over 24 weeks was observed. We conclude healthy synovium is a viable source of multipotent cells, but that the heterogeneity of synovium underlies the variability between different SMC populations, which while capable of engraftment and persistence within the synovium exhibit limited capacity of influencing tendon repair. © 2019 The Authors. Journal of Orthopaedic Research® published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of Orthopaedic Research Society J Orthop Res 38:128-138, 2020.

Original publication




Journal article


J Orthop Res

Publication Date





128 - 138


digital flexor tendon, ovine, synovial multipotent cells, synovium, tendon, Animals, Cell Differentiation, Cell Lineage, Cells, Cultured, Disease Models, Animal, Female, Flow Cytometry, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Multipotent Stem Cells, Sheep, Synovial Membrane, Tendon Injuries, Tendons