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    While overuse is a prominent risk factor for tendinopathy, the fatigue-induced structural damage responsible for initiating tendon degeneration remains unclear. Denaturation of collagen molecules and collagen fiber disorganization have been observed within certain tendons in response to fatigue loading. However, no studies have investigated whether these forms of tissue damage occur in Achilles tendons, which commonly exhibit tendinopathy. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine whether mouse Achilles tendons undergo collagen denaturation and collagen fiber disorganization when cyclically loaded to failure. Consistent with previous testing of other energy-storing tendons, we found that cyclic loading of mouse Achilles tendons produced collagen disorganization but minimal collagen denaturation. To determine whether the lack of collagen denaturation is unique to mouse Achilles tendons, we monotonically loaded the Achilles and other mouse tendons to failure. We found that the patellar tendon was also resistant to collagen denaturation, but the flexor digitorum longus (FDL) tendon and tail tendon fascicles were not. Furthermore, the Achilles and patellar tendons had a lower tensile strength and modulus. While this may be due to differences in tissue structure, it is likely that the lack of collagen denaturation during monotonic loading in both the Achilles and patellar tendons was due to failure near their bony insertions, which were absent in the FDL and tail tendons. These findings suggest that mouse Achilles tendons are resistant to collagen denaturation in situ and that Achilles tendon degeneration may not be initiated by mechanically-induced damage to collagen molecules. Copyright © 2023 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


    Krishna Pedaprolu, Spencer E Szczesny. Mouse Achilles tendons exhibit collagen disorganization but minimal collagen denaturation during cyclic loading to failure. Journal of biomechanics. 2023 Apr;151:111545

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    PMID: 36944295

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