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Tendons Lose Ability To Repair Themselves As People Age

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A recent piece of research published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, conducted by researchers at the Queen Mary University of London and the University of Liverpool, has found that as people age their tendons lose the ability to repair themselves, Medical News Today reports.

The research, undertaken by Dr Hazel Screen – a specialist in biomedical engineering – found that as tendons age and break down a build-up of protein fragments occurs. Tendons are important not only for professional sports people who push their tendons to the limit, but for everyone, as they affect people´s ability to perform everyday activities such as walking, running, jumping and raising the body up onto its toes.

As part of the study, the research team looked into proteins and protein fragments in both injured and uninjured tendon tissue. They looked at tendons in horses, as the similarities between horse tendons and human tendons are close – including the way the tendons break down after injury in both species. The research specifically looked at energy storing tendons, focussing on the Achilles in humans and the equine superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT) in horses. Both of these tendons are particularly prone to injury.

Protein levels and profiles differed between old and young tendons, affecting the tissue structure and how cell tension is regulated. In older tendons, new peptide fragments were found, indicating that there are different ways for the proteins to be broken down.

The research aimed to look closely at the mechanism of the tendons on both a cellular and molecular basis, as a lot is known about how tendons become more prone to injury as people age, but less is known about exactly why that is.