The effect of strain and transforming growth factor beta on equine tendon fibroblasts (tenocytes) was assessed in vitro. Tenocytes were isolated from flexor and extensor tendons of horses from foetal to 10 years of age. These cells were cultured until confluent on collagen-coated silicone dishes. Cyclic biaxial strain of 9+/-1% was applied at 0.5 Hz for 24 hours with or without added TGFbeta1 or 3 (10 ng/ml). Proliferation and synthetic responses were dependent on the tendon of origin. Neither strain nor TGFbeta caused flexor tenocytes to proliferate significantly, while strain alone did proliferate extensor tenocytes. TGFbeta, with or without strain, increased the incorporation of [3H]-proline and the production of types I and III collagen and COMP in both cell types, although the effect on COMP production was more marked in flexor tenocytes, perhaps reflecting the higher levels found in this tendon in vivo. Immature flexor tenocytes synthesised more collagen and COMP than those from mature animals, while age had little effect in extensor tenocytes. Our results suggest that tenocytes become differentiated at an early age and present tendon-specific responses.
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View details for PubMedID 15477668