Mechanisms in Tendon Healing Pain, Biomarkers and the Role of Mast Cells

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Tendon injuries and tendinopathy are common disorders, but the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. The overall aim of this thesis was to better understand the mechanisms underlying tendon healing, pain, and inflammation.The aim of the first study was to assess biomarkers of tendon healing, including procollagen type I (PINP) and type III (PIIINP) in relation to patient outcome in 65 patients with Achilles tendon rupture (ATR). At two weeks post-ATR, PINP and PIIINP-levels were quantified using microdialysis followed by ELISA. At one-year post-ATR patient outcome was assessed using the validated Achilles tendon Total Rupture Score. We found that higher ratio of PINP and PIIINP to total protein were significantly associated with less pain but more fatigue in the affected limb.In the second study, we applied Intermittent Pneumatic Compression (IPC) therapy for two weeks to stimulate tendon healing. The patients received either adjuvant IPC treatment or treatment-as-usual in a plaster cast without IPC. We observed that IPC therapy significantly increased PINP levels in the injured tendon, suggesting enhanced healing response.In our third study, we investigated healing response and the role of mast cells (MCs) in-vivo using an ATR rat model. Three weeks postoperatively, we demonstrated an increased number of MCs and a higher proportion of degranulated MCs in the injured tendon compared to the control. We further established that MCs in the injured tendon were positive for the glutamate receptor NMDAR1.In our final study, we assessed the effect of glutamate stimulation on in-vitro-derived mouse bone marrow MCs. Mast cell degranulation was quantified through β-hexosaminidase release, immunofluorescence was used to quantify NMDARs at the protein level, and RT-qPCR/microarray was used to study the expression of NMDARs and associated genes. Glutamate induced a robust upregulation of glutamate receptors of both ionotropic and metabotropic type, both at the mRNA and at protein level. NMDAR1 co-localized with glutamate in the membrane of MCs, thereby confirming an interaction between glutamate and its receptor. Glutamate also induced expression of pro-inflammatory compounds such as IL-6 and CCL2 and transcription factors such as Egr2, Egr3 and FosB. Moreover, the NMDA-channel blocker MK-801 completely abrogated the response of MCs to glutamate, supporting a functional glutamate–glutamate receptor axis in MCs.Together, findings presented in this dissertation reveal possible mechanisms of tendon healing in relation to pain and function, and establish a novel principle for how immune cells can communicate with nerve cells after ATR.

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