Distribution of lubricin in the ruptured human rotator cuff and biceps tendon: a pilot study

Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2010 Jun;468(6):1588-99. doi: 10.1007/s11999-009-1108-z. Epub 2009 Oct 2.


Background: Lubricin is a lubricant for diarthrodial joint tissues and has antiadhesion properties; its presence in the (caprine) rotator cuff suggests it may have a role in intrafascicular lubrication.

Questions/purposes: To preliminarily address this role, we asked: (1) What is the distribution of lubricin in human ruptured supraspinatus and biceps tendons? (2) What are the potential cellular sources of lubricin?

Methods: We obtained seven torn rotator cuff samples and four torn biceps tendon samples from 10 patients; as control tissues, we obtained the right and left supraspinatus tendons from each of six cadavers. Specimens were fixed in formalin and processed for immunohistochemical evaluation using a monoclonal antibody for lubricin.

Results: We found lubricin as a discrete layer on the torn edges of all of the ruptured supraspinatus and biceps tendon samples. None of the transected edges of the tissues produced during excision of the tissues showed the presence of lubricin. Lubricin was found in 3% to 10% of the tendon cells in the cadaveric controls and in 1% to 29% of the tendon cells in the torn supraspinatus and biceps tendon samples.

Clinical relevance: The lubricin layer on the torn edges of ruptured human supraspinatus and biceps tendons may interfere with the integrative bonding of the torn edges necessary for repair.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cadaver
  • Female
  • Glycoproteins / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Rotator Cuff / chemistry*
  • Rotator Cuff / pathology
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries
  • Rupture
  • Tendon Injuries / metabolism*
  • Tendon Injuries / pathology
  • Tendons / chemistry*
  • Tendons / pathology


  • Glycoproteins
  • lubricin