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    Collagen is a structural protein whose internal cross-linking critically determines the properties and functions of connective tissue. Knowing how the cross-linking of collagen changes with age is key to understanding why the mechanical properties of tissues change over a lifetime. The current scientific consensus is that collagen cross-linking increases with age and that this increase leads to tendon stiffening. Here, we show that this view should be reconsidered. Using MS-based analyses, we demonstrated that during aging of healthy C57BL/6 mice, the overall levels of collagen cross-linking in tail tendon decreased with age. However, the levels of lysine glycation in collagen, which is not considered a cross-link, increased dramatically with age. We found that in 16-week-old diabetic db/db mice, glycation reaches levels similar to those observed in 98-week-old C57BL/6 mice, while the other cross-links typical of tendon collagen either decreased or remained the same as those observed in 20-week-old WT mice. These results, combined with findings from mechanical testing of tendons from these mice, indicate that overall collagen cross-linking in mouse tendon decreases with age. Our findings also reveal that lysine glycation appears to be an important factor that contributes to tendon stiffening with age and in diabetes. © 2020 Stammers et al.


    Melanie Stammers, Irina M Ivanova, Izabella S Niewczas, Anne Segonds-Pichon, Matthew Streeter, David A Spiegel, Jonathan Clark. Age-related changes in the physical properties, cross-linking, and glycation of collagen from mouse tail tendon. The Journal of biological chemistry. 2020 Jul 31;295(31):10562-10571

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    PMID: 32381510

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