Since Achilles tendon healing is protracted, more knowledge of metabolites known to meet the demands for biosynthesis and proliferation is needed. We hypothesized that essential metabolites, glutamate, glucose, lactate, pyruvate and glycerol, are present and upregulated in healing Achilles tendons. We moreover hypothesized that adjuvant intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC), which increases blood flow, upregulates metabolite concentrations. Twenty patients with acute Achilles tendon rupture were recruited, operated, and included. The control group, 15 patients, received plaster cast immobilization, while five patients received adjuvant foot IPC beneath the plaster cast. At 2 weeks postoperatively, microdialysis of the healing and contralateral intact Achilles tendons was followed by quantification of metabolites. Healing compared to intact tendons of the controls exhibited significantly increased concentrations (mM) of glutamate (60 ± 14 vs 20 ± 11), lactate (1.15 ± 0.60 vs 0.64 ± 0.35), and pyruvate (81 ± 29 vs 35 ± 25, μM). Healing tendons of the IPC vs control group displayed higher levels of glutamate (84 ± 15 vs 62 ± 16) and glucose (3.44 ± 0.62 vs 2.62 ± 0.72); (P < 0.05) and trends toward higher concentrations of pyruvate, lactate, and glycerol (P < 0.10). The present study demonstrates that early Achilles tendon repair entails and upregulates local essential metabolites. This metabolic response can, during tendon healing with plaster cast immobilization, be promoted by adjuvant IPC.
© 2012 John Wiley & Sons A/S.