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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2014 Dec;114(12):2625-34. doi: 10.1007/s00421-014-2986-7. Epub 2014 Aug 29.

Variants within the MMP3 gene and patellar tendon properties in vivo in an asymptomatic population.

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  • 1Maternal and Fetal Health Research Group, Institute of Human Development, University of Manchester, St. Mary's Hospital, 5th Floor, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9WL, UK,



Gene variants encoding for proteins involved in homeostatic processes within tendons may influence its material and mechanical properties in humans. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between three polymorphisms of the MMP3 gene, (rs679620, rs591058 and rs650108) and patellar tendon dimensional and mechanical properties in vivo.


One hundred and sixty, healthy, recreationally-active, Caucasian men and women, aged 18-39 were recruited. MMP3 genotype determined using real-time PCR was used to select 84 participants showing greatest genetic differences to complete phenotype measurements. Patellar tendon dimensions (volume) and functional (elastic modulus) properties were assessed in vivo using geometric modelling, isokinetic dynamometry, electromyography and ultrasonography.


No significant associations were evident between the completely linked MMP3 rs591058 and rs679620 gene variants, and closely linked rs650108 gene variant, and either patellar tendon volume (rs679620, P = 0.845; rs650108, P = 0.984) or elastic modulus (rs679620, P = 0.226; rs650108, P = 0.088). Similarly, there were no associations with the Z-score that combined those dimension and functional properties into a composite value (rs679620, P = 0.654; rs650108, P = 0.390). Similarly, no association was evident when comparing individuals with/without the rarer alleles (P > 0.01 in all cases).


Patellar tendon properties do not seem to be influenced by the MMP3 gene variants measured. Although these MMP3 gene variants have previously been associated with the risk of tendon pathology, that association is unlikely to be mediated via underlying tendon dimensional and functional properties.

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