Gap junction protein expression and cellularity: Comparison of immature and adult equine digital tendons

Stanley, Rachael L., Fleck, Roland A., Becker, David L., Goodship, Allen E., Ralphs, Jim R. and Patterson-Kane, Janet C. (2007) Gap junction protein expression and cellularity: Comparison of immature and adult equine digital tendons. Journal of Anatomy, 211 3: 325-334. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7580.2007.00781.x

Author Stanley, Rachael L.
Fleck, Roland A.
Becker, David L.
Goodship, Allen E.
Ralphs, Jim R.
Patterson-Kane, Janet C.
Title Gap junction protein expression and cellularity: Comparison of immature and adult equine digital tendons
Journal name Journal of Anatomy   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0021-8782
Publication date 2007-09-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1469-7580.2007.00781.x
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 211
Issue 3
Start page 325
End page 334
Total pages 10
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Subject 060106 Cellular Interactions (incl. Adhesion, Matrix, Cell Wall)
Abstract njury to the energy-storing superficial digital flexor tendon is common in equine athletes and is age-related. Tenocytes in the superficial digital flexor tendon of adult horses appear to have limited ability to respond adaptively to exercise or prevent the accumulation of strain-induced microdamage. It has been suggested that conditioning exercise should be introduced during the growth period, when tenocytes may be more responsive to increased quantities or intensities of mechanical strain. Tenocytes are linked into networks by gap junctions that allow coordination of synthetic activity and facilitate strain-induced collagen synthesis. We hypothesised that there are reductions in cellular expression of the gap junction proteins connexin (Cx) 43 and 32 during maturation and ageing of the superficial digital flexor tendon that do not occur in the non-injury-prone common digital extensor tendon. Cryosections from the superficial digital flexor tendon and common digital extensor tendon of 5 fetuses, 5 foals (1–6 months), 5 young adults (2–7 years) and 5 old horses (18–33 years) were immunofluorescently labelled and quantitative confocal laser microscopy was performed. Expression of Cx43 and Cx32 protein per tenocyte was significantly higher in the fetal group compared with all other age groups in both tendons. The density of tenocytes was found to be highest in immature tissue. Higher levels of cellularity and connexin protein expression in immature tendons are likely to relate to requirements for tissue remodelling and growth. However, if further studies demonstrate that this correlates with greater gap junctional communication efficiency and synthetic responsiveness to mechanical strain in immature compared with adult tendons, it could support the concept of early introduction of controlled exercise as a means of increasing resistance to later injury.
Keyword Age
Connexins (Cx)
Gap junctions
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
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School of Veterinary Science Publications
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Created: Tue, 31 Mar 2009, 00:40:06 EST by Ms Lynette Adams on behalf of School of Veterinary Science