Myostatin in tendon maintenance and repair

Growth Factors. 2009 Aug;27(4):247-54. doi: 10.1080/08977190903052539.


Myostatin, a negative regulator of muscle growth, has recently been found to be expressed in tendons. Myostatin-deficient mice have weak and brittle tendons, which suggest that myostatin could be important for tendon maintenance. Follistatin expression in the callus tissue after tendon transection is influenced by loading. We found that follistatin antagonises myostatin, but not GDF-5 or OP-1 in vitro. To study if myostatin might play a physiological role in soft tissue, we transected 64 rat Achilles tendons and studied the gene expression for myostatin and its receptors at four different time-points during healing. Intact tendons were also studied. All samples were studied with or without mechanical loading. Unloading was achieved with botulinum toxin injections in the calf muscles. The expression of the myostatin gene was more than 40 times higher in intact tendons than in the callus tissue during tendon healing. The expression of myostatin was also influenced by loading status in both intact and healing tendons. Thereafter, we measured the mechanical properties of healing tendons after local myostatin administration. This treatment increased the volume and the contraction of the callus after 8 days, but did not improve its strength. Our results indicate that myostatin plays a positive role in tendon maintenance and that exogenous protein administration stimulates proliferation and growth of early repair tissue. However, no effect on further development towards connective tissue formation was found.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Botulinum Toxins / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Follistatin / biosynthesis
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Myostatin / metabolism
  • Myostatin / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Tendons / metabolism
  • Tendons / physiology*
  • Wound Healing


  • Follistatin
  • Myostatin
  • Botulinum Toxins