Distribution and persistence of technetium-99 hexamethyl propylene amine oxime-labelled bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells in experimentally induced tendon lesions after intratendinous injection and regional perfusion of the equine distal limb



Reasons for performing study

Intralesional (i.l.) injection is currently the most commonly used technique for stem cell therapy in equine tendon injury. A comparison of different techniques of injection of mesenchymal stem cells for the treatment of tendon lesions is required.


We hypothesised that vascular perfusion of the equine distal limb with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) would result in preferential distribution of MSCs to acute tendon injuries.

Study design

In vivo experimental study.


Lesions were surgically induced in forelimb superficial digital flexor tendons of 8 horses. Three or 10 days after lesion induction, technetium-99 hexamethyl propylene amine oxime-labelled MSCs were injected via i.v. or intra-arterial (i.a.) regional limb perfusion (RLP) at the level of the distal antebrachium and compared to i.l. injection. Mesenchymal stem cell persistence and distribution within the forelimb and tendon lesions was assessed with scintigraphy for 24 h.


Lesion uptake was higher with i.l. injection than with RLP, but MSC persistence decreased similarly over time in all 3 techniques. Intra-arterial RLP resulted in a better distribution of MSCs and a higher uptake at the lesion site than i.v. RLP. Limbs perfused i.a. on Day 10 showed greater accumulation of MSCs in the lesion than limbs perfused on Day 3. Arterial thrombosis occurred in 50% of the i.v. RLP limbs and in 100% of the i.a. RLP limbs, which led to clinical complications in one horse.

Conclusions and potential relevance

Compared with i.l. injection, RLP results in lower uptake but similar persistence of MSCs at the site of tendon lesions. A time dependent accumulation of MSCs was identified with i.a. RLP. The i.a. RLP appears more advantageous than the i.v. RLP in terms of distribution and uptake. However, the described i.a. technique produced arterial thrombosis and thus cannot currently be recommended for clinical use.

The Summary is available in Chinese – see Supporting information.