Chondrogenic gene expression in repetitive-use tendon injury

Tendon has to withstand high tensile forces to do its job properly, acting as a mechanical link between muscle and bone to allow joint movement. Repetitive-use tendon injury, known as tendinopathy, affects workers in many key Canadian industries, as well as professional and recreational athletes. Standard anti-inflammatory treatments are unsuccessful in treating tendinopathy, and new treatments are needed to relieve the burden of chronic tendon pain. Normal tendon is composed of rope-like molecules (type I collagen). In contrast, in tendinopathy the collagen can become spongey – like in cartilage (type II collagen). The tendon becomes less able to resist tensile forces, and more prone to microtearing, pain and rupture. Dr. Alexander Scott is investigating what triggers tendon cells to switch their metabolism to produce less type I collagen and more type II collagen. Scott is conducting a combination of molecular and biomechanical studies both with tendon fibroblasts and with tendon progenitor cells. Scott is also studying transcriptional regulation during tendon injury using a transgenic reporter system, and in patients with tendinopathy. Scott’s research is aimed at developing evidence-based treatments for chronically painful tendons. Ultimately, this could open up new therapeutic options for restoring tendon health.