Doxycycline improves cage activity, but not exercised, supraspinatus tendon and muscle in a rat model

J Biomech. 2018 Oct 26;80:79-87. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2018.08.027. Epub 2018 Sep 5.


The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of doxycycline, a broad-spectrum MMP inhibitor, on cage activity and exercised supraspinatus tendon and muscle using a Sprague-Dawley rat model of non-injurious exercise. Because exercise may alter muscle and tendon MMP activity and matrix turnover, we hypothesized that doxycycline would abolish the beneficial adaptations found with exercise but have no effect on cage activity muscle and tendon properties. Rats were divided into acute or chronic exercise (EX) or cage activity (CA) groups, and half of the rats received doxycycline orally. Animals in acute EX groups were euthanized 24 h after a single bout of exercise (10 m/min, 1 h) on a flat treadmill. Animals in chronic EX groups walked on a flat treadmill and were euthanized at 2 or 8 week time points. Assays included supraspinatus tendon mechanics and histology and muscle fiber morphologic and type analysis. Doxycycline improved tendon mechanical properties and collagen organization in chronic cage activity groups, which was not consistently evident in exercised groups. Combined with exercise, doxycycline decreased average muscle fiber cross-sectional area. Results of this study suggest that administration of doxycycline at pharmaceutical doses induces beneficial supraspinatus tendon adaptations without negatively affecting the muscle in cage activity animals, supporting the use of doxycycline to combat degenerative processes associated with underuse; however, when combined with exercise, doxycycline does not consistently produce the same beneficial adaptations in rat supraspinatus tendons and reduces muscle fiber cross-sectional area, suggesting that doxycycline is not advantageous when combined with activity.

Keywords: Doxycycline; Exercise; Matrix metalloproteinases; Rotator cuff; Tendon.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Collagen / physiology
  • Doxycycline / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / physiology
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal / physiology
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Rotator Cuff / drug effects
  • Rotator Cuff / physiology
  • Tendons / drug effects*
  • Tendons / physiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Collagen
  • Doxycycline