Elastin is Localised to the Interfascicular Matrix of Energy Storing Tendons and Becomes Increasingly Disorganised With Ageing
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Tendon is composed of fascicles bound together by the interfascicular matrix (IFM). Energy storing tendons are more elastic and extensible than positional tendons; behaviour provided by specialisation of the IFM to enable repeated interfascicular sliding and recoil. With ageing, the IFM becomes stiffer and less fatigue resistant, potentially explaining why older tendons become more injury-prone. Recent data indicates enrichment of elastin within the IFM, but this has yet to be quantified. We hypothesised that elastin is more prevalent in energy storing than positional tendons, and is mainly localised to the IFM. Further, we hypothesised that elastin becomes disorganised and fragmented, and decreases in amount with ageing, especially in energy storing tendons. Biochemical analyses and immunohistochemical techniques were used to determine elastin content and organisation, in young and old equine energy storing and positional tendons. Supporting the hypothesis, elastin localises to the IFM of energy storing tendons, reducing in quantity and becoming more disorganised with ageing. These changes may contribute to the increased injury risk in aged energy storing tendons. Full understanding of the processes leading to loss of elastin and its disorganisation with ageing may aid in the development of treatments to prevent age related tendinopathy.