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Type of publication: Journal Article
Type of document: Full Paper

Year: 2020

Authors: Ribitsch, I; Gueltekin, S; Keith, MF; Minichmair, K; Peham, C; Jenner, F; Egerbacher, M

Title: Age-related changes of tendon fibril micro-morphology and gene expression.

Source: J Anat. 2020 236 (4) 688-700.

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Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Egerbacher Monika
Gerner Iris
Gültekin Sinan
Jenner Florien
Peham Christian

Vetmed Research Units
University Equine Clinic, Clinical Unit of Equine Surgery
Institute of Pathology

Aging is hypothesized to be associated with changes in tendon matrix composition which may lead to alteration of tendon material properties and hence propensity to injury. Altered gene expression may offer insights into disease pathophysiology and thus open new perspectives toward designing pathophysiology-driven therapeutics. Therefore, the current study aimed at identifying naturally occurring differences in tendon micro-morphology and gene expression of newborn, young and old horses. Age-related differences in the distribution pattern of tendon fibril thickness and in the expression of the tendon relevant genes collagen type 1 (Col1), Col3, Col5, tenascin-C, decorin, tenomodulin, versican, scleraxis and cartilage oligomeric matrix protein were investigated. A qualitative and quantitative gene expression and collagen fibril diameter analysis was performed for the most frequently injured equine tendon, the superficial digital flexor tendon, in comparison with the deep digital flexor tendon. Most analyzed genes (Col1, Col3, Col5, tenascin-C, tenomodulin, scleraxis) were expressed at a higher level in foals (age ≤ 6 months) than in horses of 2.75 years (age at which flexor tendons become mature in structure) and older, decorin expression increased with age. Decorin was previously reported to inhibit the lateral fusion of collagen fibrils, causing a thinner fibril diameter with increased decorin concentration. The results of this study suggested that reduction of tendon fibril diameters commonly seen in equine tendons with increasing age might be a natural age-related phenomenon leading to greater fibril surface areas with increased fibrillar interaction and reduced sliding at the fascicular/fibrillar interface and hence a stiffer interfascicular/interfibrillar matrix. This may be a potential reason for the higher propensity to tendinopathies with increasing age.© 2019 The Authors. Journal of Anatomy published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Anatomical Society.

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