Tendinosis-like changes in denervated rat Achilles tendon

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2018 Nov 30;19(1):426. doi: 10.1186/s12891-018-2353-7.


Background: Tendon disorders are common and lead to significant disability and pain. Our knowledge of the 'tennis elbow', the 'jumpers knee', and Achilles tendinosis has increased over the years, but changes in denervated tendons is yet to be described in detail. The aim of the present study was to investigate the morphological and biochemical changes in tendon tissue following two weeks of denervation using a unilateral sciatic nerve transection model in rat Achilles tendons.

Methods: Tendons were compared with respect to cell number, nuclear roundness, and fiber structure. The non-denervated contralateral tendon served as a control. Also, the expression of neuromodulators such as substance P and its preferred receptor neurokinin-1 receptor, NK-1R, was evaluated using real-time qRT-PCR.

Results: Our results showed that denervated tendons expressed morphological changes such as hypercellularity; disfigured cells; disorganization of the collagen network; increased production of type III collagen; and increased expression of NK-1R.

Conclusion: Taken together these data provide new insights into the histopathology of denervated tendons showing that denervation causes somewhat similar changes in the Achilles tendon as does tendinosis in rats.

Keywords: Collagen; Denervation; Rat; Substance P; Tendinosis.

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / innervation
  • Achilles Tendon / pathology*
  • Animals
  • Biopsy
  • Denervation / adverse effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Neurokinin-1 / metabolism*
  • Sciatic Nerve / surgery
  • Substance P / metabolism*
  • Tendinopathy / etiology*
  • Tendinopathy / pathology


  • Receptors, Neurokinin-1
  • Substance P