Send to

Choose Destination
J Anat. 2007 Jan;210(1):1-7.

Crimp morphology in relaxed and stretched rat Achilles tendon.

Author information

Department of Human Anatomical Sciences and Physiopathology of Locomotor Apparatus, Bologna, Italy.


Fibrous extracellular matrix of tendon is considered to be an inextensible anatomical structure consisting of type I collagen fibrils arranged in parallel bundles. Under polarized light microscopy the collagen fibre bundles appear crimped with alternating dark and light transverse bands. This study describes the ultrastructure of the collagen fibrils in crimps of both relaxed and in vivo stretched rat Achilles tendon. Under polarized light microscopy crimps of relaxed Achilles tendons appear as isosceles or scalene triangles of different size. Tendon crimps observed via SEM and TEM show the single collagen fibrils that suddenly change their direction containing knots. The fibrils appear partially squeezed in the knots, bent on the same plane like bayonets, or twisted and bent. Moreover some of them lose their D-period, revealing their microfibrillar component. These particular aspects of collagen fibrils inside each tendon crimp have been termed 'fibrillar crimps' and may fulfil the same functional role. When tendon is physiologically stretched in vivo the tendon crimps decrease in number (46.7%) (P<0.01) and appear more flattened with an increase in the crimp top angle (165 degrees in stretched tendons vs. 148 degrees in relaxed tendons, P<0.005). Under SEM and TEM, the 'fibrillar crimps' are still present, never losing their structural identity in straightened collagen fibril bundles of stretched tendons even where tendon crimps are not detectable. These data suggest that the 'fibrillar crimp' may be the true structural component of the tendon crimp acting as a shock absorber during physiological stretching of Achilles tendon.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center