An explant method for the isolation of fibroblasts from adult human tendon is described. Cells were successfully isolated from 22 out of 27 common biceps tendons obtained from cadaveric donors (age range 11-83 years). The fibroblasts could be maintained in culture using standard methods and morphologically resembled those of synovial rather than dermal origin. Growth characteristics of 12 cell lines were assessed by deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA) synthesis using [3H]thymidine incorporation in response to stimulation by fetal calf serum. Cells obtained separately from superficial and deep parts of the tendons produced almost identical responses. No significant reduction in growth response with increasing age was found when related to the age of the donor. Therefore this study did not show any age related defect in the short term tendon fibroblast replicative responses to serum.
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