Tendon disease, which results from cellular-level damage to a tendon, is accompanied by chronic pain, inflammation and limited function. Its development has always been linked to exercise but the association has yet to be fully understood. Now research conducted at the University of East Anglia (UEA) suggests that moderate exercise could be a way to keep tendons healthy. It could help prevent the onset of the disease or treat this painful condition.
The research team was led by Dr Eleanor Jones from the School of Biological Sciences at the UEA. The study findings have been published in the Molecular Cell Research journal. According to the report, moving around reduces metalloproteinases – a group of enzymes responsible for tendon tissue degradation and protein buildup.
The study involved the use of human cells taken from the Achilles tendon. These cells were then seeded in rat tail collagen gels. In order to simulate moderate exercise, the researchers subjected the cells to levels of strain experienced by human tendons.
As Jones explained, the team focused on moderately high exercise and running is an activity they place in that group. But she was quick to point out that the research was conducted in a lab. This means that confirmation of its findings will require further clinical studies.
The findings of the study also show how genes are regulated by the activation of a protein called transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β). The researchers hope that an investigation into this pathway will provide more answers about the link between exercise and tendon disease.