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Pregnancy and Lactation Impair Subchondral Bone Leading to Reduced Rat Supraspinatus Tendon-to-Bone Insertion Site Failure PropertiesAbstract Pregnant women experience weight gain, gait changes, and biochemical fluctuations that impair joint function and alter the maternal skeleton. Hormonal changes increase pelvic ligament laxity in preparation for childbirth and affect peripheral joint laxity. Calcium demands also rise during pregnancy and lactation, resulting in reduced bone mineral density (BMD) and maternal bone loss. Altered tendon properties and bone loss during pregnancy and lactation may impact tendon insertion sites, such as rotator cuff tendons where insertion site ruptures are common. However, the effects of pregnancy and lactation at the tendon-to-bone interface have not been investigated. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate supraspinatus tendon mechanical properties and insertion site microstructure during pregnancy, lactation, and postweaning recovery in female rats. We hypothesized that pregnancy and lactation would compromise supraspinatus tendon mechanical properties and subchondral bone microstructure. Female rats were divided into virgin, pregnancy, lactation, and recovery groups, and supraspinatus tendons were mechanically evaluated. Surprisingly, tendon mechanics was unaffected by pregnancy and lactation. However, tendon modulus decreased two-weeks postweaning. Additionally, tendons failed by bony avulsion at the insertion site, and the lactation group exhibited reduced failure properties corresponding to decreased subchondral bone mineralization. Lactation also resulted in dramatic bone lossmore »
The extracellular matrix (ECM) is the primary biomechanical environment that interacts with tendon cells (tenocytes). Stresses applied via muscle contraction during skeletal movement transfer across structural hierarchies to the tenocyte nucleus in native uninjured tendons. Alterations to ECM structural and mechanical properties due to mechanical loading and tissue healing may affect this multiscale strain transfer and stress transmission through the ECM. This study explores the interface between dynamic loading and tendon healing across multiple length scales using living tendon explants. Results show that macroscale mechanical and structural properties are inferior following high magnitude dynamic loading (fatigue) in uninjured living tendon and that these effects propagate to the microscale. Although similar macroscale mechanical effects of dynamic loading are present in healing tendon compared to uninjured tendon, the microscale properties differed greatly during early healing. Regression analysis identified several variables (collagen and nuclear disorganization, cellularity, and F-actin) that directly predict nuclear deformation under loading. Finite element modeling predicted deficits in ECM stress transmission following fatigue loading and during healing. Together, this work identifies the multiscale response of tendon to dynamic loading and healing, and provides new insight into microenvironmental features that tenocytes may experience following injury and after cell delivery therapies.
Ultrasound‐Guided Dry Needling of the Healthy Rat Supraspinatus Tendon Elicits Early Healing Without Causing Permanent Damage
Overuse‐induced tendinopathy is highly prevalent in the general population. Percutaneous fenestration, or dry needling, techniques have been increasing in popularity, but despite their current use, there are no controlled laboratory studies to provide fundamental support for this practice. The objective of this study was to establish a model for percutaneous needling of the rat supraspinatus tendon using ultrasound guidance and to evaluate the biological response of needling healthy tendon. A total of 44 male Sprague–Dawley rats (477 ± 39 g) were used to evaluate the effect of dry needling on healthy supraspinatus tendon properties. Ten rats were reserved as un‐needled control animals, and the remaining animals underwent either mild or moderate bilateral needling protocols and were sacrificed at 1 or 6 weeks post‐needling (
n= 8–10/group). Color Doppler ultrasound imaging was performed to analyze blood flow within the tendon. Histological and immunohistochemical analyses were used to determine cellular, inflammatory, and extracellular matrix properties of the tissue. Finally, quasi‐static tensile mechanical analysis was performed to obtain viscoelastic, structural, and material properties to evaluate the tendon healing outcome. Data were tested for normality, and then two‐way analysis of variance tests were performed followed by post hoc tests for multiple comparisons. Both the mild and moderate needlingmore »
Tendon Biomechanics and Crimp Properties Following Fatigue Loading Are Influenced by Tendon Type and Age in Mice
In tendon, type‐I collagen assembles together into fibrils, fibers, and fascicles that exhibit a wavy or crimped pattern that uncrimps with applied tensile loading. This structural property has been observed across multiple tendons throughout aging and may play an important role in tendon viscoelasticity, response to fatigue loading, healing, and development. Previous work has shown that crimp is permanently altered with the application of fatigue loading. This opens the possibility of evaluating tendon crimp as a clinical surrogate of tissue damage. The purpose of this study was to determine how fatigue loading in tendon affects crimp and mechanical properties throughout aging and between tendon types. Mouse patellar tendons (PT) and flexor digitorum longus (FDL) tendons were fatigue loaded while an integrated plane polariscope simultaneously assessed crimp properties at P150 and P570 days of age to model mature and aged tendon phenotypes (
N= 10–11/group). Tendon type, fatigue loading, and aging were found to differentially affect tendon mechanical and crimp properties. FDL tendons had higher modulus and hysteresis, whereas the PT showed more laxity and toe region strain throughout aging. Crimp frequency was consistently higher in FDL compared with PT throughout fatigue loading, whereas the crimp amplitude was cycle dependent. This differentialmore »