Acute and chronic tendinopathies remain clinically challenging and tendons are predisposed to degeneration or injury with age. Despite the high prevalence of tendon disease in the elderly, our current understanding of the mechanisms underlying the age-dependent deterioration of tendon function remains very limited. Here, we show that Secreted protein acidic and rich in cysteine (Sparc) expression significantly decreases in healthy-aged mouse Achilles tendons. Loss of Sparc results in tendon collagen fibrillogenesis defects and Sparc-/- tendons are less able to withstand force in comparison with their respective wild type counterparts. On the cellular level, Sparc-null and healthy-aged tendon-derived cells exhibited a more contracted phenotype and an altered actin cytoskeleton. Additionally, an elevated expression of the adipogenic marker genes PPARγ and Cebpα with a concomitant increase in lipid deposits in aged and Sparc-/- tendons was observed. In summary, we propose that Sparc levels in tendons are critical for proper collagen fibril maturation and its age-related decrease, together with a change in ECM properties favors lipid accretion in tendons.
- Journal Article