Objective: Our primary objective was to summarise the known effects of locally administered glucocorticoid on tendon tissue and tendon cells.
Methods: We conducted a systematic review of the scientific literature using the PRISMA and Cochrane guidelines of the Medline database using specific search criteria. The search yielded 50 articles, which consisted of 13 human studies, 36 animal studies and one combined human/animal study.
Results: Histologically, there was a loss of collagen organisation (6 studies) and an increase in collagen necrosis (3 studies). The proliferation (8 studies) and viability (9 studies) of fibroblasts was reduced. Collagen synthesis was decreased in 17 studies. An increased inflammatory cell infiltrate was shown in 4 studies. Increased cellular toxicity was demonstrated by 3 studies. The mechanical properties of tendon were investigated by 18 studies. Descriptively, 6 of these studies showed a decrease in mechanical properties, 3 showed an increase, while the remaining 9 showed no significant change. A meta-analysis of the mechanical data revealed a significant deterioration in mechanical properties, with an overall effect size of -0.67 (95% CI = 0.01 to -1.33) (data from 9 studies).
Conclusions: Overall it is clear that the local administration of glucocorticoid has significant negative effects on tendon cells in vitro, including reduced cell viability, cell proliferation and collagen synthesis. There is increased collagen disorganisation and necrosis as shown by in vivo studies. The mechanical properties of tendon are also significantly reduced. This review supports the emerging clinical evidence that shows significant long-term harms to tendon tissue and cells associated with glucocorticoid injections.
Keywords: Fibroblast; Glucocorticoid; Steroid; Tendon; Tenocyte.
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