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Open Access Research article

Passage and concentration-dependent effects of Indomethacin on tendon derived cells

Emad Mallick*, Nanette Scutt, Andy Scutt and Christer Rolf

Author Affiliations

Sheffield Centre Of Sports Medicine, School Of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Beech Hill Road, Sheffield, S10 2RS, UK

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Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research 2009, 4:9  doi:10.1186/1749-799X-4-9

Published: 2 April 2009



Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are commonly used in the treatment of tendinopathies such as tendonitis and tendinosis. Despite this, little is known of their direct actions on tendon-derived cells. As NSAIDs have been shown to delay healing in a number of mesenchymal tissues we have investigated the direct effects of indomethacin on the proliferation of tendon-derived cells.

Results and Discussion

The results obtained were dependent on both the type of cells used and the method of measurement. When measured using the Alamar blue assay, a common method for the measurement of cell proliferation and viability, no effect of indomethacin was seen regardless of cell source. It is likely that this lack of effect was due to a paucity of mitochondrial enzymes in tendon cells.

However, when cell number was assessed using the methylene blue assay, which is a simple nuclear staining technique, an Indomethacin-induced inhibition of proliferation was seen in primary cells but not in secondary subcultures.


These results suggest that firstly, care must be taken when deciding on methodology used to investigate tendon-derived cells as these cells have a quite different metabolism to other mesenchymal derive cells. Secondly, Indomethacin can inhibit the proliferation of primary tendon derived cells and that secondary subculture selects for a population of cells that is unresponsive to this drug.