In vitro development of a muscle-tendon junction construct using decellularised extracellular matrix: effect of cyclic tensile loading

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The muscle tendon junction (MTJ) plays a crucial role in transmitting the force generated by muscles to the tendon and then to the bone. Injuries such as tears and strains frequently happen at the MTJ, where the regenerative process is limited due to poor vascularization and the complex structure of the tissue. Current solutions for a complete tear at the MTJ have not been successful and therefore, the development of a tissue-engineered MTJ may provide a more effective treatment. In this study, decellularised extracellular matrix (DECM) derived from sheep MTJ was used to provide a scaffold for the MTJ with the relevant mechanical properties and differentiation cues such as the relase of growth factors. Human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were seeded on DECM and 10 % cyclic strain was applied using a bioreactor. MSCs cultured on DECM showed significantly higher gene and protein expression of MTJ markers such as collagen 22, paxillin and talin, than MSCs in 2D culture. Although collagen 22 protein expression was higher in the cells with strain than without strain, reduced gene expression of other MTJ markers was observed when the strain was applied. DECM combined with 10 % strain enhanced myogenic differentiation, while tenogenic differentiation was reduced when compared to static cultures of MSCs on DECM. For the first time, these results showed that DECM derived from the MTJ can induce MTJ marker gene and protein expression by MSCs, however, the effect of strain on the MTJ development in DECM culture needs further investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number213873
JournalBiomaterials Advances
Early online date27 Apr 2024
Publication statusEarly online - 27 Apr 2024


  • Bioreactor
  • Decellularised extracellular matrix
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Muscle tendon junction
  • Strain
  • Tissue engineering

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