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Tendons and ligaments (T/L) are connective tissues that connect muscle to bone and bone to bone, respectively, and can withstand great tensile forces. Hence, T/L are indispensable for the performance of movements.

T/L present many challenges to orthopaedic medicine due to their difficult and lengthy tissue regeneration which especially affects aged individuals. In addition, T/L biology has still several basic deficits, for example: the ontogeny of the T/L cell lineage is not fully understood and only few T/L-specific genes are identified so far.

Recently, it was recognized that T/L contain their own mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) population, named tendon stem and progenitor cells (TSPC). At present, these cells are envisioned as promising candidates for T/L repair.

Thus, the "TENDON" Research Group is focusing on the T/L stem cell niche and in particular, on the question how this niche operates and changes during T/L aging and disease.


Current Projects

  1. MSC differentiation into T/L lineage
  2. Cell-matrix interactions of MSC and TSPC
  3. Characterization of T/L-derived cells ex vivo
  4. T/L-related mouse models
  5. Investigation of T/L aging process

Guest Professor

Denitsa Docheva, PhD, graduated in 1999 with two Masters Degrees (Biology and Chemistry) at the University of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Denitsa did her PhD in the Department of Molecular Medicine at Max Planck Institute, Martinsried, Germany. During her PhD (2001-2004) she researched into two main topics: 1) the development of T/L-specific knockout mouse model and 2) the integrin receptor pathway. In the spring of 2005 she joined the Laboratory for Experimental Surgery and Regenerative Medicine as a postdoctoral fellow. Since 2006 she leads the "TENDON" Research Group. In April 2012, Dr. Docheva completed her habilitation in the field of "Experimental Surgery" and became "Priv.-Doz." at the Medical Faculty of the LMU. Since autumn of 2016 she got her professorship for experimental trauma surgery in Regensburg. However, she is still closely connected with ExperiMed as a guest professor.