Mechanobiology of tendon

J Biomech. 2006;39(9):1563-82. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2005.05.011. Epub 2005 Jul 5.


Tendons are able to respond to mechanical forces by altering their structure, composition, and mechanical properties--a process called tissue mechanical adaptation. The fact that mechanical adaptation is effected by cells in tendons is clearly understood; however, how cells sense mechanical forces and convert them into biochemical signals that ultimately lead to tendon adaptive physiological or pathological changes is not well understood. Mechanobiology is an interdisciplinary study that can enhance our understanding of mechanotransduction mechanisms at the tissue, cellular, and molecular levels. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of tendon mechanobiology. The discussion begins with the mechanical forces acting on tendons in vivo, tendon structure and composition, and its mechanical properties. Then the tendon's response to exercise, disuse, and overuse are presented, followed by a discussion of tendon healing and the role of mechanical loading and fibroblast contraction in tissue healing. Next, mechanobiological responses of tendon fibroblasts to repetitive mechanical loading conditions are presented, and major cellular mechanotransduction mechanisms are briefly reviewed. Finally, future research directions in tendon mechanobiology research are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fibroblasts
  • Humans
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Tendon Injuries / metabolism
  • Tendon Injuries / pathology
  • Tendons / cytology
  • Tendons / physiology*
  • Tensile Strength
  • Wound Healing