Tendon cell and tissue culture: Perspectives and recommendations

Spencer E. Szczesny, David T. Corr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The wide variety of cell and tissue culture systems used to study and engineer tendons can make it difficult to choose the best approach and “optimal” culture conditions to test a given hypothesis. Therefore, a breakout session was organized at the 2022 ORS Tendon Section Meeting that focused on establishing a set of guidelines for conducting cell and tissue culture studies of tendon. This paper summarizes the outcomes of that discussion and presents recommendations for future studies. In the case of studying tendon cell behavior, cell and tissue culture systems are reductionist models in which the culture conditions should be strictly defined to approximate the in vivo condition as closely as possible. In contrast, for tissue engineering tendon replacements, the culture conditions do not need to replicate native tendon, but the outcome measures for success should be narrowly defined for the specific clinical application. Common recommendations for both applications are that researchers should perform a baseline phenotypic characterization of the cells that are ultimately used for experimentation. For models of tendon cell behavior, culture conditions should be well justified by existing literature and meticulously reported, tissue explant viability should be assessed, and comparisons to in vivo conditions should be made to determine baseline physiological relevance. For tissue engineering applications, the functional/structural/compositional outcome targets should be defined by the specific tendons they seek to replace, with key biologic and material properties prioritized for construct assessment. Lastly, when engineering tendon replacements, researchers should utilize clinically approved cGMP materials to facilitate clinical translation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2093-2104
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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