Tenocytes are known to be mechanoresponsive and the present study tests the hypothesis that distinct mechanical stimulation regimes, associated with the short-term and extended application of cyclic tensile strain, alters the balance between anabolic and catabolic processes. Microarray technology has been used to provide a comprehensive analysis of alterations in gene expression within isolated tendon fascicles in response to cyclic tensile strain using a well-established model system. Isolated rat tail tendon fascicles were subjected to cyclic tensile strain (3% amplitude superimposed on a 2% static strain) for 1 or 24 hr. Messenger RNA expression level was assessed using Illumina microarray. The number of genes significantly altered in strained fascicles from the level of unstrained control fascicles was greater at 24 hr than 1 hr. The expression levels of many extracellular matrix components remained unchanged at both time points; however, a number of members of the matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) and a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with a thrombospondin (ADAMTS) families were significantly downregulated at 24 hr. Functional annotation revealed that upregulated genes were significantly associated with the regulation of transcription at 1 hr and translation at 24 hr. Downregulated genes were associated with inflammatory responses at 1 hr, and genes inhibited at 24 hr were significantly associated with cell apoptosis and a variety of metabolic functions. The present results suggest that the metabolic balance was shifted in favor of catabolism by the application of a small number of tensile strain cycles, whereas an extended number stimulates strong anti-catabolic effects.<br/
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