Evaluation of Endothelial and Vascular-Derived Progenitor Cell Populations in the Proximal and Distal UCL of the Elbow: A Comparative Study
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionThe Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine. 2018, 6, 2325967118777825. 10.1177/2325967118777825
Background: Vascular-derived progenitor and endothelial cell populations (CD31, CD34, CD146) are capable of multipotent differentiation at the site of injured ligamentous tissue to aid in the intrinsic healing response. Proximal ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tears have been reported to have better healing capability when compared with distal UCL tears. Purpose: To compare the vascular composition of the proximal and distal insertions of the anterior bundle of the UCL of the elbow via known markers of endothelial and vascular-derived progenitor cells (CD31, CD34, CD146). Study Design: Descriptive laboratory study. Methods: UCLs were harvested from 10 nonpaired fresh-frozen human cadaveric elbows and transected into proximal and distal portions. Endothelial and vascular-derived progenitor cell densities were assessed with 4 staining groups: CD31 (immunohistochemistry) and CD31/α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), CD34/α-SMA, and CD146/α-SMA (immunofluorescence). CD31 immunohistochemistry identified endothelial progenitor cells in the UCL. Later staining of the same slides with α-SMA demonstrated the relationship of progenitor cells to the surrounding vasculature. Fluorescent staining was quantified by calculating the proportion of positively stained nuclei versus the total number of nuclei in the proximal and distal UCL. Results: CD31+ cells were present in the proximal and distal sections of all 10 UCLs. Fluorescent staining revealed no significant differences in the ratio of CD31 to total nuclei between the distal (median, 36% [range, 23%-53%]) and proximal UCL (39% [22%-56%]) (P = .432, Wilcoxon signed-rank test). Similarly, no differences were seen between CD34 distal (39% [24%-64%]) and proximal regions (46% [28%-63%]) (P = .846, Wilcoxon signed-rank test) or CD146 distal (40% [12%-65%]) and proximal regions (40% [22%-51%]) (P ≥ .999, Wilcoxon signed-rank test). Conclusion: Analysis of UCL tissues demonstrated equal distributions of vascular endothelial and vascular-derived progenitor cell markers throughout the proximal and distal UCL. Unlike that of the medial collateral ligament of the knee, the microvascular composition of the proximal and distal UCL insertions was not different, suggesting a well-vascularized ligament throughout its course.
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