OBJECTIVE: Isolated human tendon cells form 3D tendon constructs that demonstrate collagen fibrillogenesis and feature structural similarities to tendon when cultured under tensile load. The exact role of circulating growth factors for collagen formation in tendon is sparsely examined. We investigated the influence of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) on tendon construct formation in 3D cell culture. DESIGN: Tendon constructs were grown in 0.5 or 10% FBS with or without IGF-I (250 mg/ml) supplementation. Collagen content (fluorometric), mRNA levels (PCR) and fibril diameter (transmission electron microscopy) were determined at 7, 10, 14, 21 and 28 days. RESULTS: IGF-I revealed a stimulating effect on fibril diameter (up to day 21), mRNA for collagen (to day 28), tenomodulin (to day 28) and scleraxis (at days 10 and 14), and on overall collagen content. 10% FBS diminished the development of fibril diameter (day 14), collagen content (at days 21 and 28) and mRNA expression for collagen, tenomodulin and scleraxis. CONCLUSION: IGF-I supplementation promotes early onset of tensile load induced collagen formation and tendon structural arrangement, whereas the FBS concentration routinely used in cultures diminishes collagen expression, collagen content and fibril formation.
Growth Hormone and I G F Research, 2015, Vol 25, Issue 1, p. 13-19