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Ageing has different effects on male and female tendons

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Ageing has opposite effects on the tendons of males and females, researchers at the University of Liverpool have discovered.

Tendons are bands of strong fibres that attach muscles to bones. They transfer force from the muscle to the bone to produce the movement of joints.

Tendinopathy, a disease of a tendon, can develop in any tendon of the body and results in the tendons not functioning normally.

In the new study, researchers from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease analysed a number of gene datasets from males and females from two age groups (20-24 and 54-70 years) to identify sex-specific gene expression changes with age.

They identified distinct molecular pathways affecting ageing in the tendon which are dependent on gender.

The results, published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, reveal that in older males decreased expression of the binding protein CRABP2 leads to rapid reproduction of cells (cellular proliferation), whereas in older females it leads to the loss of a cell’s power of division and growth (cellular senescence).

“Our research highlights the possible need to treat tendon disease differently in males and females because alternative mechanisms may be involved,” commented lead researcher Dr Mandy Peffers.

It’s thought the findings could lead to more bespoke treatments for this patient group.