Foot Health
Keeping Tendons Young
Mar 17, 2014 - 1:41:12 PM

( - ROSEMONT, Ill., March 17, 2014  -- No one likes getting older.  In addition to the complaints of gray hair and wrinkles, there are other more serious concerns.  Adults over age 60, for example, are far more likely to suffer from tendon injuries.  Tendons are the tissues that connect muscle to bone and facilitate joint movement.  Unfortunately, once injured, there are few if any options likely to restore normal tendon structure or function.

Hui (Herb) Sun, PhD of Albert Einstein College of Medicine and his colleagues had previously demonstrated that the number and function of tendon stem cells, the cell population responsible for maintaining tendon integrity, decreased with age.  "We have long known that rotator cuff tendon repairs often fail in older patients," said co-author Evan Flatow MD of Mount Sinai's Icahn School of Medicine, "if this is due to poorer function of the tendon stem cells in these older patients this research offers hope that we can improve the function of these cells which are so important to tendon homeostasis and repair."  In addition, they have learned that the gene CITED2 plays a major role in the maintenance of these particular stem cells."

But what if there was a way to reverse the damage caused by the aging process?  New research, presented at the Orthopaedic Research Society's Annual Meeting, indicated that it may be possible to do just that.  "In this study," explained Sun, "we found that reprogramming CITED2 in aged tendon stem cells not only reversed the age-related fate and function of these cells, but when implanted into injured aged tendons, enhanced tendon healing and rejuvenated the host tissue."

Although older adults may always have to contend with gray hair and wrinkles, they might not need to be concerned about decreased mobility in their advanced years, even after suffering injury.  "We are developing a novel patient- and surgeon-friendly intervention for tendon tissue repair, especially in aged individuals," Sun reports.  "We're also working on strategies to rejuvenate aged tendon and other musculoskeletal tissues based on this discovery. "

Founded in 1954, the Orthopaedic Research Society strives to be the world's leading forum for the dissemination of new musculoskeletal research findings.  The musculoskeletal system provides form, support, stability, and movement to the body.

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