Rat model of Achilles tendon disorder. A pilot study

Cells Tissues Organs. 1999;165(1):30-9. doi: 10.1159/000016671.


Three-month-old male rats were subjected 3 times weekly for 1 h to eccentric exercise of one triceps surae muscle (30 stimulations/min) under general anesthesia in order to induce Achilles tendon disorder corresponding to paratenonitis and tendinosis in man. Net muscle work during the sessions ranged between 0.67 and 4.37 mJ (mean 1.72, SD 0.77). After 9 and 13 sessions, respectively, 2 rats started to show gait alterations during the functional test which was performed 2-3 times weekly. These rats were killed after additional sessions which showed a worsening of the limp. The other trained rats and controls did not limp and were killed after 7-11 weeks. Histologic evaluation of the Achilles tendons from the exercised limb showed in the majority of the cases hypervascularization, increased number of nerve filaments and increased immunoreactivity for substance P and calcitonin gene-related peptide. The tendons from the nonstimulated limb looked normal. The distribution of collagen types I and II appeared normal in the tendon and its insertion to the calcaneus. Inflammation of the epi- and paratenon could be provoked in the rat, but tendon changes corresponding to chronic tendinosis did not develop within 11 weeks with the used training regime. The clinical relevance of this model for chronic tendon disease needs to be evaluated further.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / chemistry
  • Achilles Tendon / injuries*
  • Achilles Tendon / innervation
  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide / analysis
  • Chronic Disease
  • Collagen / analysis
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Gait
  • Hindlimb
  • Hip Joint
  • Male
  • Peripheral Nerves / chemistry
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal
  • Pilot Projects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Substance P / analysis
  • Torque


  • Substance P
  • Collagen
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide