Rotator Cuff Tear State Modulates Self-Renewal and Differentiation Capacity of Human Skeletal Muscle Progenitor Cells

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Full thickness rotator cuff tendon (RCT) tears have long-term effects on RC muscle atrophy and fatty infiltration, with lasting damage even after surgical tendon repair. Skeletal muscle progenitor cells (SMPs) are critical for muscle repair in response to injury, but the inability of RC muscles to recover from chronic RCT tear indicates possible deficits in repair mechanisms. Here we investigated if muscle injury state was a crucial factor during human SMP expansion and differentiation ex vivo. SMPs were isolated from muscles in patients with no, partial-thickness (PT), or full-thickness (FT) RCT tears. Despite using growth factors, physiological niche stiffness, and muscle-mimetic extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, we found that SMPs isolated from human RC muscle with RCT tears proliferated slower but fused into myosin heavy chain (MHC)-positive myotubes at higher rates than SMPs from untorn RCTs. Proteomic analysis of RC muscle tissue revealed shifts in muscle composition with pathology, as muscle from massive RCT tears had increased ECM deposition compared with no tear RC muscle. Together these data imply that the remodeled niche in a torn RCT primes SMPs not for expansion but for differentiation, thus limiting longer-term self-renewal necessary for regeneration after surgical repair.

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