Subacromial Bursal Tissue and Surrounding Matrix of Patients Undergoing Rotator Cuff Repair Contains Progenitor Cells

Published:November 09, 2021DOI:


      To build upon previous literature to identify a complete analysis of cellular contents of subacromial bursal tissue as well as the matrix surrounding the rotator cuff.


      Samples of subacromial bursal tissue and surrounding matrix milieu from above the rotator cuff tendon and above the rotator cuff muscle bellies were obtained from 10 patients undergoing arthroscopic rotator cuff repair. Samples were analyzed using fluorescent-activated cell sorting and histologic analysis with staining protocols (Oil Red O, Alcian Blue, and Picro-Sirius Red), for identification of matrix components, including fat, proteoglycans, and collagen.


      Progenitor cells and fibroblast-type cells were present in significant amounts in subacromial bursal tissue in both tissues obtained from over the tendinous and muscle belly portions. Markers for neural tissue, myeloid cells, and megakaryocytes also were present to a lesser extent. There were prominent amounts of fat and proteoglycans present in the matrix, based on ImageJ analysis of stained histologic slides.


      The subacromial bursal tissue and surrounding matrix of patients undergoing rotator cuff repair contains progenitor cells in significant concentrations both over the tendon and muscle belly of the rotator cuff.

      Clinical Relevance

      This presence of progenitor cells, in particular, in the subacromial bursal tissue provides a potential basis for future applications of augmentation purposes in rotator cuff healing, and calls into question the practice of routine bursectomy. As the potential role of bursal tissue contents in growth and regeneration in the setting of rotator cuff healing is more well understood, maintaining this tissue may become more relevant. Concentration of these cellular components for use in autologous re-implantation is also an avenue of interest.
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