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J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact. 2011 Jun;11(2):115-23.

In vivo investigation of tendon responses to mechanical loading.

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Institute of Sports Medicine, Bispebjerg Hospital and Centre for Healthy Ageing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, 2400 Copenhagen NV, Denmark.


Tendons transmit skeletal muscle forces to bone and are essential in all voluntary movement. In turn, movement appears to affect tendon properties, and in recent years considerable effort has been put into discovering how tendon tissue responds to mechanical stimuli in vivo. Months and years of mechanical loading can influence the gross morphology of tendon, seen as an increase tendon cross sectional area (CSA). Similarly, tendon stiffness appears to be affected by weeks to months of loading. Increased stiffness can relate to changes in CSA and/or tendon material properties (modulus), though the relative contribution of these parameters is largely unclear. The possible mechanisms behind alterations in tendon material properties include changes in collagen fibril morphology and levels of cross-linking between collagen molecules. Furthermore, increased levels of collagen synthesis and expression are seen as a response to acute exercise and training, and may be a central parameter in tendon adaptation to loading. There are indications that this collagen-induction relates to the auto-/paracrine action of collagen-stimulating growth factors, such as TGFβ-1 and IGF-I, which are expressed in response to mechanical stimuli.

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