Early responses to mechanical load in tendon: role for calcium signaling, gap junctions and intercellular communication

J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact. 2005 Mar;5(1):70-84.


Tendon and other connective tissue cells are subjected to diverse mechanical loads during daily activities. Thus, fluid flow, strain, shear and combinations of these stimuli activate mechanotransduction pathways that modulate tissue maintenance, repair and pathology. Early mechanotransduction events include calcium (Ca2+) signaling and intercellular communication. These responses are mediated through multiple mechanisms involving stretch-activated channels, voltage-activated channels such as Ca(v)1, purinoceptors, adrenoceptors, ryanodine receptor-mediated Ca2+ release, gap junctions and connexin hemichannels. Calcium, diacylglycerol, inositol (1,4,5)-trisphosphate, nucleotides and nucleosides play intracellular and/or extracellular signaling roles in these pathways. In addition, responses to mechanical loads in tendon cells vary among species, tendon type, anatomic location, loading conditions and other factors. This review includes a synopsis of the immediate responses to mechanical loading in connective tissue cells, particularly tenocytes. These responses involve Ca2+ signaling, gap junctions and intercellular communication.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology*
  • Cell Communication / physiology*
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism*
  • Gap Junctions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Ion Channels / physiology
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular / physiology*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Tendons / metabolism*
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology


  • Ion Channels
  • Receptors, Cell Surface