Identifying the causes of age-related tendon injury

Principal investigator: Hazel SCREEN
Funding source(s): DMT Dunhill Medical Trust, The
 Start: 01-10-2018  /  End: 31-03-2021
 Amount: £190,374

We have been investigating tendinopathy for the last six years, and have recent, exciting data which leads us to believe that tendon injury occurs because of ageing changes within a specific part of the tendon structure called the interfascicular matrix (IFM). Tendon is like rope, where the IFM connects the rope strands. Our evidence shows that the IFM should be stretchy and lubricated to allow the rope strands to slide around relative to each other, but as we age, the IFM loses these properties. Separately, we have shown that tendon overuse causes damage and inflammation in the IFM. Combining these results, leads us to propose that the changes in the IFM with age cause damage to occur more easily to this region and this leads to tendinopathy. The primary goal of this project is to establish if this is the case, and to define how the age-related changes in tendon accelerate progression to tendinopathy. We will look at the initiation and progression of tendinopathy in a rat Achilles tendon; the most appropriate animal in which to test our hypotheses. We will compare IFM function in young and old rats, to see how ageing changes in the IFM make a tendon less resistant to loading and accelerate the progression of tendinopathy. We will identify the specific IFM changes that drive increased injury risk with ageing. This is exciting as we can then continue, in future studies, to develop treatments specifically aimed at preventing, reversing, or mitigating the effects of these changes.