, Volume 39, Issue 7, pp 1904-1913
Date: 23 Mar 2011

Mechanical, Compositional, and Structural Properties of the Post-natal Mouse Achilles Tendon

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During post-natal development, tendons undergo a well orchestrated process whereby extensive structural and compositional changes occur in synchrony to produce a normal tissue. Conversely, during the repair response to injury, structural and compositional changes occur, but in this case, a mechanically inferior tendon is produced. As a result, the process of development has been postulated as a potential paradigm through which improved adult tissue healing may occur. In this study we measured the mechanical, compositional, and structural properties in the post-natal mouse Achilles tendon at 4, 7, 10, 14, 21, and 28 days old. Throughout post-natal development, the mechanical properties, collagen content, fibril diameter mean, and fibril diameter standard deviation increased. Biglycan expression decreased and decorin expression and fiber organization were unchanged. This study provides a new mouse model that can be used to quantitatively examine mechanical development, as well as compositional and structural changes and biological mechanisms, during post-natal tendon development. This model is advantageous due to the large number of genetically modified mice and commercially available assays that are not available in other animal models. A mouse model therefore allows future mechanistic studies to build on this work.