• ASCs;
  • adipose-derived stem cells;
  • ligament engineering;
  • collagen type 1;
  • tissue engineering;
  • adult stem cells


Rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the one of the most common sports-related injuries. With its poor healing capacity, surgical reconstruction using either autografts or allografts is currently required to restore function. However, serious complications are associated with graft reconstructions and the number of such reconstructions has steadily risen over the years, necessitating the search for an alternative approach to ACL repair. Such an approach may likely be tissue engineering. Recent engineering approaches using ligament-derived fibroblasts have been promising, but the slow growth rate of such fibroblasts in vitro may limit their practical application. More promising results are being achieved using bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). The adipose-derived stem cell (ASC) is often proposed as an alternative choice to the MSC and, as such, may be a suitable stem cell for ligament engineering. However, the use of ASCs in ligament engineering still remains relatively unexplored. Therefore, in this study, the potential use of human ASCs in ligament tissue engineering was initially explored by examining their ability to express several ligament markers under growth factor treatment. ASC populations treated for up to 4 weeks with TGFβ1 or IGF1 did not show any significant and consistent upregulation in the expression of collagen types 1 and 3, tenascin C and scleraxis. While treatment with EGF or bFGF resulted in increased tenascin C expression, increased expression of collagens 1 and 3 were never observed. Therefore, simple in vitro treatment of human ASC populations with growth factors may not stimulate their ligament differentiative potential. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.