Mature connective tissues demonstrate highly specialised properties, remarkably adapted to meet their functional requirements. Tissue adaptation to environmental cues can occur throughout life and poor adaptation commonly results in injury. However, the temporal nature and drivers of functional adaptation remain undefined. Here, we explore functional adaptation and specialisation of mechanically loaded tissues using tendon; a simple aligned biological composite, in which the collagen (fascicle) and surrounding predominantly non-collagenous matrix (interfascicular matrix) can be interrogated independently. Using an equine model of late development, we report the first phase-specific analysis of biomechanical, structural and compositional changes seen in functional adaptation, demonstrating adaptation occurs postnatally, following mechanical loading, and is almost exclusively localised to the non-collagenous interfascicular matrix. These novel data redefine adaptation in connective tissue, highlighting the fundamental importance of non-collagenous matrix and suggesting that regenerative medicine strategies should change focus from the fibrous to the non-collagenous matrix of tissue.
- Danae E Zamboulis
- Helen L Birch
- Hazel R C Screen
- Peter D Clegg
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: Samples were collected from horses euthanised for reasons unrelated to this project at a commercial abattoir or equine practices following owner consent under ethical approval for use of the cadaveric material granted by the Veterinary Research Ethics Committee, School of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool (VREC352).
- Subburaman Mohan, Loma Linda University, United States
© 2020, Zamboulis et al.
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