Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy

, Volume 19, Issue 12, pp 2153–2158 | Cite as

Labeling and tracing of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells for tendon-to-bone tunnel healing

  • Yong-Gang Li
  • Ji-Nan Wei
  • Jun Lu
  • Xiao-Tao Wu
  • Gao-Jun Teng
Experimental Study



To investigate the effects of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) on tendon-to-bone tunnel healing and provide experimental evidence for labeling and tracing of stem cells.


Rat BMSCs were harvested using the adherence separation technique and labeled by super paramagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) and 1,1-Dioctadecyl-3,3,3,3-tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate (Dil) particles. Thirty-nine male Sprague–Dawley (SD) rats aged 8 weeks were randomly divided into two groups: experimental (n = 21) and control (n = 18). Rats from the experimental group were injected with SPIO- and Dil-labeled BMSCs and Pluronic F-127, and rats from the control group were only injected with Pluronic F-127. At 2, 4, and 8 weeks after surgery, biomechanical analysis was performed to evaluate tendon-to-bone tunnel healing. The transplanted BMSCs were observed by fluorescence microscope at 2, 4, and 8 weeks after surgery and traced by magnetic resonance (MR) imaging at 0, 3, and 7 days after surgery.


BMSCs were labeled effectively by SPIO and Dil particles. At 2, 4, and 8 weeks after surgery, Dil-labeled cells were observed at tendon-bone interface by fluorescence microscope. In the experimental group, no obvious signal changes of tendon-bone interface were observed by MR imaging. The maximum biomechanical pull-out strength was not statistically different between experimental and control groups at 2 weeks, but significantly higher in the experimental group at 4 and 8 weeks after surgery (P < 0.05).


The present study indicated that the transplanted BMSCs could promote tendon-to-bone tunnel healing at 4–8 weeks postoperatively. Dil- and SPIO-labeled transplanted BMSCs distributed at the tendon-bone interface and might play a role in promoting tendon-to-bone tunnel healing, which may be translated into practical cytotherapy for patients those who need earlier rehabilitation for ligament reconstruction surgery in clinic.


Mesenchymal stem cells Magnetic resonance imaging Tendon-to-bone Labeling Transplantation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yong-Gang Li
    • 1
  • Ji-Nan Wei
    • 1
  • Jun Lu
    • 1
  • Xiao-Tao Wu
    • 1
  • Gao-Jun Teng
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Zhongda HospitalSoutheast UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Laboratory of Molecular Imaging, Department of Radiology, Zhongda HospitalMedical School of Southeast UniversityNanjingChina

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