Human‐induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) are reprogrammed somatic cells and are an excellent cell source for tissue engineering applications, disease modeling, and for understanding human development. HiPSC lines have now been generated from a diverse range of somatic cell types and have been reported to retain an epigenetic memory of their somatic origin. To date, the reprogramming of a true ligament has not been reported. The aim of this study is to generate iPSCs from human anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) cells. ACL cells from three above‐knee amputation donors, with donor matched dermal fibroblasts (DFs) were tested for reprogramming using an existing DF reprogramming protocol. ACL cells were, however, more sensitive than donor matched DF to transforming growth factor‐β (TGF‐β); displaying marked contraction, increased proliferation and increased TNC and COMP expression in vitro, which hindered reprogramming to iPSCs. Modification of the protocol by scoring the cell monolayer or by removal of TGF‐β during ACL reprogramming resulted in emerging colonies being easier to identify and extract, increasing reprogramming efficiency. Following 30 passages in culture, the generated ACL derived iPSCs displayed pluripotency markers, normal karyotype and can successfully differentiate to cells of the three embryonic germ layers. This study illustrates it is possible to generate hiPSCs from ligament and identifies optimized ligament reprogramming conditions. ACL derived iPSCs may provide a promising cell source for ligament and related tissue engineering applications.
Keywords: anterior cruciate ligament; human induced pluripotent stem cells; reprogramming; ligament differentiation; tissue engineering