In vitro expanded and frosted ovine amniotic epithelial cells (oAECs) were evaluated for their phenotype, stemness and attitude to differentiate into tenocytes. Fifteen horses with acute tendon lesions were treated with one intralesional injection of oAECs. Tendon recovery under controlled training was monitored. In vitro expanded oAECs showed a constant proliferative ability, a conserved phenotype and stable expression profile of stemness markers. Differentiation into tenocytes was also regularly documented. US controls showed the infilling of the defect and early good alignment of the fibers and 12 horses resumed their previous activity. Histological and immunohistochemical examinations in an explanted tendon demonstrated the low immunogenicity of oAECs that were able to survive in the healing site. In addition, oAECs supported the regenerative process producing ovine collagen type I amongst the equine collagen fibers. Considering our results, oAECs can be proposed as a new approach for the treatment of spontaneous equine tendon injuries.
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