Purdue University Graduate School

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Optimizing Engineered Tendon Development via Structural and Chemical Signaling Cues

posted on 2023-08-02, 13:05 authored by Thomas Lee Jenkins IIThomas Lee Jenkins II

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons in the shoulder that function to lift and rotate the arm. Rotator cuff tendon tears are increasingly common: more than 545,000 rotator cuff surgeries occur annually in the US. However, treatment is often complicated by disorganized collagen matrix formed via fibrosis and results in high re-tear rates. Tendon tissue engineering seeks to solve the problem using biomaterials to promote neo-tendon formation to augment repair or regenerate tendon. However, while current biomaterials provide the opportunity to improve tendon healing, they frequently still exhibit fibrosis in preclinical studies. Therefore, a critical need exists to understand the mechanisms of aligned collagen formation when designing biomaterials for tendon tissue engineering. Matrix architecture and transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 4 (TRPV4) regulate aligned collagen formation during tenogenesis in vitro, but the mechanism remains to be determined. Recently, TRPV4 stimulation was found to induce nuclear localization and activation of transcriptional co-activators Yes-associated protein (YAP). YAP expression is upregulated during tendon development, a process characterized by aligned collagen formation, and in response to physiological mechanical stimulation, suggesting it could play an important role in tendon. The objective of this work is to improve tissue engineering strategies and progress toward making a device that regenerate tendon after injury. Aim 1 incorporates tendon-derived matrix into synthetic polymer scaffolds to add biological signaling cues to induce tenogenesis. Aim 2 uses a 2D photolithography system (microphotopatterning) to optimize architectural and structural cues to promote stem cell differentiation toward tenogenic, chondrogenic, and osteogenic lineages. Aim 3 investigates dynamic tensile loading protocols to promote collagen matrix synthesis and improve engineered tendon mechanical function. Aim 4 investigates the role of TRPV4 and YAP in collagen alignment during engineered tendon development.


Role of TRPV4 and YAP/TAZ in Tendon Fibrosis and Engineered Tendon Development

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Driver Genes for Engineered Rotator Cuff Development

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Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Biomedical Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dianne Little

Additional Committee Member 2

Marxa Figueiredo

Additional Committee Member 3

Julie Liu

Additional Committee Member 4

Sarah Calve