Matrix remodeling in healing rabbit Achilles tendon

Wound Repair Regen. Nov-Dec 1999;7(6):518-27. doi: 10.1046/j.1524-475x.1999.00518.x.


Biochemical, biomechanical and ultrastructural properties of the connective tissue matrix were investigated during the early remodeling phase of tissue repair in experimentally tenotomized and repaired rabbit Achilles tendons. Sterile surgical tenotomy was performed on the right Achilles tendons of 14 rabbits and allowed to heal for 15 days. The animals were euthanized and the Achilles tendons excised from both limbs. The left contralateral Achilles tendon of each rabbit was used as a control in the experiments. Prior to biochemical analysis, both intact and healing tendons were tested for their biomechanical integrity. The results revealed that the healing tendons had regained some of their physicochemical characteristics, but differed significantly from the intact left tendons. The healing tendons regained 48% tensile strength, 30% energy absorption, 20% tensile stress, and 14% Young's modulus of elasticity of intact tendons. In contrast, biochemical analysis showed that the healing tendons had 80% of the collagen and 60% of the collagen crosslinks (hydroxypyridinium) of normal tendons. Sequential extraction of collagen from the tissues yielded more soluble collagen in the healing tendons than intact tendons, suggesting either an increase in collagen synthesis and/or enhanced resorption of mature collagen in healing tendons compared to intact tendons. Electron microscopic studies revealed remarkable differences in the ultrastructure between intact and healing tendons. These observations could explain, in part, the connective tissue response to healing during the early phases of tissue remodeling.

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / injuries*
  • Achilles Tendon / metabolism*
  • Achilles Tendon / ultrastructure
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Collagen / biosynthesis*
  • Elasticity
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Rabbits
  • Solubility
  • Tensile Strength
  • Wound Healing / physiology*


  • Collagen