Diabetes alters mechanical properties and collagen fiber re-alignment in multiple mouse tendons

Ann Biomed Eng. 2014 Sep;42(9):1880-8. doi: 10.1007/s10439-014-1031-7. Epub 2014 May 15.


Tendons function to transfer load from muscle to bone through their complex composition and hierarchical structure, consisting mainly of type I collagen. Recent evidence suggests that type II diabetes may cause alterations in collagen structure, such as irregular fibril morphology and density, which could play a role in the mechanical function of tendons. Using the db/db mouse model of type II diabetes, the diabetic skin was found to have impaired biomechanical properties when compared to the non-diabetic group. The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of diabetes on biomechanics, collagen fiber re-alignment, and biochemistry in three functionally different tendons (Achilles, supraspinatus, patellar) using the db/db mouse model. Results showed that cross-sectional area and stiffness, but not modulus, were significantly reduced in all three tendons. However, the tendon response to load (transition strain, collagen fiber re-alignment) occurred earlier in the mechanical test, contrary to expectations. In addition, the patellar tendon had an altered response to diabetes when compared to the other two tendons, with no changes in fiber re-alignment and decreased collagen content at the midsubstance of the tendon. Overall, type II diabetes alters tendon mechanical properties and the dynamic response to load.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Collagen / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology*
  • Glycosaminoglycans / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Tendons / metabolism*
  • Tendons / physiopathology*


  • Glycosaminoglycans
  • Collagen