The cell and developmental biology of tendons and ligaments

Int Rev Cytol. 2000;196:85-130. doi: 10.1016/s0074-7696(00)96003-0.


We have sought to create, for the first time in a single comprehensive review, a modern synthesis of opinion on the cell, developmental, and molecular biology of tendons, ligaments, and their associated structures (tendon sheaths, vinculi, and retinacula). Particular attention has been paid to highlighting new data on the early development of tendons, the signaling molecules involved in their patterning, and the diversity of specialized regions (entheses, wrap-around regions, and myotendinous junctions) that characterize fully formed tendons and ligaments. We have emphasized the complexities of adult tendon and ligament cell shape and related these to their early development. The importance of gap junctions in allowing cell communication throughout an extensive extracellular matrix (ECM) has also been highlighted, particularly in relation to understanding how tendon and ligament cells respond to changes in mechanical load. Finally, we have considered the influence of growth factors and related molecules on cell proliferation and ECM synthesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Ligaments / cytology*
  • Ligaments / growth & development*
  • Tendons / cytology*
  • Tendons / growth & development*