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Connect Tissue Res. 2005;46(4-5):175-83.

Adenovirus-mediated gene transfer of growth and differentiation factor-5 into tenocytes and the healing rat Achilles tendon.

By: Rickert M, Wang H, Wieloch P, Lorenz H, Steck E, Sabo D, Richter W.

Growth and differentiation factor-5 (GDF-5) is known to induce tendon tissue and stimulate tendon healing. The hypothesis was that adenoviral GDF-5 transfer leads to transitory transgene expression and improves Achilles tendon healing. In vitro experiments were first performed with rat tenocytes. Transgene expression was evaluated by RT-PCR, Western blotting and GDF-5-ELISA. In vivo virus dosage and transgene expression were examined by a marker gene transfer (LacZ and luciferase). In the main experiment in 131 rats, adenovirus particles (3 x 10(10)) were injected into transected Achilles tendons. The time course of GDF-5 mRNA expression was assessed by real-time RT-PCR. Histology and biomechanical testing were used to evaluate tendon healing and tensile strength. In vitro GDF-5 was secreted with a maximum after 2 weeks (330 ng GDF-5/10(6) cells per 24 hr). In vivo GDF-5 transgene expression showed a maximum at 4 weeks. At 8 weeks, GDF-5 specimens were thicker (p<0.05) with a trend to higher strength (p=0,064). Histology showed greater cartilage formation in type II collagen stains than in controls. Injection of adenovirus particles successfully can deliver the GDF-5 gene in healing tendons and leads to thicker tendon regenerates after 8 weeks. This technique might become a new approach for nonsurgical treatment of tendon injuries.

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