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J Biomech. 2005 Jan;38(1):99-105.

Tendon properties in interleukin-4 and interleukin-6 knockout mice.

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  • 1McKay Orthopaedic Research Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania, 424 Stemmler Hall, 36th and Hamilton walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6081, USA.


Cytokines are known to play an important role in normal tendon development, function, and maintenance through interactions with fibroblasts and extracellular matrix proteins. However, the role of interleukins on normal tendon activity remains poorly understood. Previous studies that have researched the role of specific cytokines by exogenously applying them have often reported conflicting results. Therefore, a knockout mouse model was used to investigate the role of interleukins 4 and 6 on normal tendon organizational and biomechanical properties. It was hypothesized that interleukin-6 knockout (IL6 -/-) mice will display more organized collagen orientation and greater cross-sectional area and mechanical properties when compared to that of control mice. In addition, interleukin-4 knockout (IL4 -/-) mice will display the most disorganized collagen orientation and lowest cross-sectional area and mechanical properties. As hypothesized, IL6 -/- mice show a trend towards lower angular deviation (more organized) (p<0.1) when compared to IL4 -/- mice. In addition, the IL6 -/- mice show a trend towards a higher percent relaxation (p<0.1) and a significantly higher modulus (p<0.01) when compared to CTL and IL4 -/- mice. Unexpectedly, the IL6 -/- mice exhibited no significant differences in collagen fiber distribution and maximum stress from the other groups and actually had a smaller cross-sectional area than CTL mice (p<0.1). This study supports transgenic mice as an animal model for investigating how cytokines affect normal tendon properties. In addition, this study demonstrates that interleukins may play an important role in tendon development, function, and maintenance.

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