Affiliation: University College London Medical School, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom.
In this review, we analysed the role of stem cell and growth factor therapy on rotator cuff tendon repair. The injury to the rotator cuff tendons can be sustained in numerous ways and generally causes significant pain and disability to the affected individual. Following surgical repair of ruptured rotator cuff tendons re-rupture rates can be as high as 20-60%. In order to augment this repair process and to decrease the re-rupture rates tissue engineering methods can be used. These include the use of stem cells and growth factors. Mesenchymal stem cells are stem cells which can differentiate into a variety of connective tissue cell types and can therefore be utilised in repairing tendons. So far there has only been one human study using stem cells in rotator cuff tendon repair. This study has produced a positive result but consisted of only 14 patients and lacks a control group for comparison. Similar work has also been done using growth factors. Both individual and combination growth factor therapy have been used to improve rotator cuff tendon repair. However, the results so far have been disappointing with growth factors. For the purpose of future studies better techniques should be explored with regards to the delivery of stem cells and growth factors as well as the possibility of combining growth factor and stem cell therapy to improve repair rates.