GAG depletion increases the stress relaxation response of tendon fascicles, but does not influence recovery

Kirsten Legerlotz, Graham P. Riley, Hazel R. C. Screen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Cyclic and static loading regimes are commonly used to study tenocyte metabolism in vitro and to improve our understanding of exercise-associated tendon pathologies. The aims of our study were to investigate if cyclic and static stress relaxation affected the mechanical properties of tendon fascicles differently, if this effect was reversible after a recovery period, and if the removal of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) affected sample recovery. Tendon fascicles were dissected frombovine-foot extensors and subjected to 14% cyclic (1 Hz) or static tensile strain for 30 min. Additional fascicles were incubated overnight in buffer with 0.5 U chondroitinase ABC or in buffer alone prior to the static stress-relaxation regime. To assess the effect of different stress-relaxation regimes, a quasi-static test to failure was carried out, either directly post loading or after a 2 h recovery period, and compared with unloaded control fascicles. Both stress-relaxation regimes led to a significant reduction in fascicle failure stress and strain, but this was more pronounced in the cyclically loaded specimens. Removal of GAGs led to more stress relaxation and greater reductions in failure stress after static loading compared to controls. The reduction in mechanical properties was partially reversible in all samples, given a recovery period of 2 h. This has implications for mechanical testing protocols, as a time delay between fatiguing specimens and characterization of mechanical properties will affect the results. GAGs appear to protect tendon fascicles from fatigue effects, possibly by enabling sample hydration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6860-6866
Number of pages6
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Issue number6
Early online date24 Feb 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

Cite this