GDF-5 deficiency in mice delays Achilles tendon healing

J Orthop Res. 2003 Sep;21(5):826-35. doi: 10.1016/S0736-0266(03)00049-4.


The aim of this study was to examine the role of one of the growth/differentiation factors, GDF-5, in the process of tendon healing. Specifically, we tested the hypothesis that GDF-5 deficiency in mice would result in delayed Achilles tendon repair. Using histologic, biochemical, and ultrastructural analyses, we demonstrate that Achilles tendons from 8-week-old male GDF-5 -/- mice exhibit a short-term delay of 1-2 weeks in the healing process compared to phenotypically normal control littermates. Mutant animals took longer to achieve peak cell density, glycosaminoglycan content, and collagen content in the repair tissue, and the time course of changes in collagen fibril size was also delayed. Revascularization was delayed in the mutant mice by 1 week. GDF-5 deficient Achilles tendons also contained significantly more fat within the repair tissue at all time points examined, and was significantly weaker than control tissue at 5 weeks after surgery, but strength differences were no longer detectable by 12-weeks. Together, these data support the hypothesis that GDF-5 may play an important role in modulating tendon repair, and are consistent with previously posited roles for GDF-5 in cell recruitment, migration/adhesion, differentiation, proliferation, and angiogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / metabolism
  • Achilles Tendon / physiology*
  • Achilles Tendon / ultrastructure
  • Animals
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / deficiency
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / physiology*
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Glycosaminoglycans / metabolism
  • Growth Differentiation Factor 5
  • Hydroxyproline / metabolism
  • Male
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / metabolism
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / pathology
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / physiopathology
  • Mice
  • Wound Healing / physiology*


  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • Gdf5 protein, mouse
  • Glycosaminoglycans
  • Growth Differentiation Factor 5
  • DNA
  • Hydroxyproline