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Age-dependent regulation of tendon crimp structure, cell length and gap width with strain

Legerlotz, Kirsten, Dorn, Jonas, Richter, Jens, Rausch, Martin and Leupin, Olivier (2014) Age-dependent regulation of tendon crimp structure, cell length and gap width with strain. Acta Biomaterialia, 10 (10). pp. 4447-4455. ISSN 1878-7568


The black-and-white patterning of tendon fascicles when visualized by light microscopy, also known as crimp, is a well-known feature of fiber-forming collagens. However, not much is known about its development, function and response to strain. The objective of this study is to investigate the interaction of tenocyte and crimp morphology as well as their changes with increasing age and acute strain. In contrast to previous studies, which used indirect measures, such as polarized light, to investigate the crimp structure, this study visualizes internal crimp structure in three dimensions without freezing, sectioning, staining or fixing the tissue, via two-photon imaging of green fluorescent protein expressing cells within mouse tail tendon fascicles. This technique further allows straining of the live tissue while visualizing changes in crimp morphology and cell shape with increasing specimen length. Combining this novel microscopy technique with computational image and data analysis revealed a complex relationship between tenocytes and the extracellular matrix that evolves with increasing age. While the reduction of crimping with strain was observed as expected, most of the crimps were gone at 0-1% strain already. Even relatively low strains of 3% led to pronounced changes in the crimp structure after relaxation, particularly in the young animals, which could not be seen with bright-field imaging. Cell length and gap width increased with strain. However, while the cells were able to return to their original length even after high strains of 6%, the gaps between the cells widened, which may imply modified cell-cell communication after overstretching.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Automated image analysis Mechanical properties Tendon fascicle Tendon morphology Tenocyte shape
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2017 00:45
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2019 00:46


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