eCM (Eur Cell Mater / e Cells & Materials) eCM Open Access Scientific Journal
 ISSN:1473-2262         NLM:100973416 (link)         DOI:10.22203/eCM

2019   Volume No 38 – pages 123-136

Title: Insulin-like growth factor binding protein (IGFBP6) is a cross-species tendon marker

Authors: AJ Turlo, AJ Mueller-Breckenridge, DE Zamboulis, SR Tew, EG Canty-Laird, PD Clegg

Address: Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease, William Henry Duncan Building, 6 West Derby Street, L7 8TX Liverpool, UK

E-mail: a.turlo at

Abstract: The main challenge in tendon injury management is suboptimal tissue healing that fails to re-establish original tendon function. Tissue bioengineering is a promising approach for tendon therapy, with potential to improve its functional outcomes. However, evaluation criteria for tissue-engineered tendon are unclear due to the lack of specific markers of differentiated tendon. The study aim was to identify a panel of genes that characterised tendons in comparison to cartilage or muscles and validate those genes, both in human and key species used as models for tendon diseases. Gene expression profiling of rat tendon and cartilage in whole-tissue samples and primary tenocytes and chondrocytes was undertaken using two independent microarray platforms. Genes that demonstrated high expression correlation across two assays were validated by qRT-PCR in rat tendon relative to cartilage and muscle. Five genes demonstrating the highest tendon-related expression in the validation experiment (ASPN, ECM1, IGFBP6, TNMD, THBS4) were further evaluated by qRT-PCR in ovine, equine and human tissue. The group of tendon markers, identified by unbiased transcriptomic analysis of rat musculoskeletal tissues, demonstrated species-dependent profiles of expression. Insulin-like growth factor binding protein 6 (IGFBP6) was identified as the only universal tendon marker. Further investigation in equine tendon showed that IGFBP6 expression was not affected by ageing or tendon function but decreased in anatomical regions subjected to elevated compressive force. IGFBP6 is a robust cross-species marker of tendon phenotype and may find application in evaluation of tendon physiology and guided differentiation of permissive cells towards functional tenocytes.

Key Words: Bioengineering, tissue engineering, tendonitis, biomarker, translational biology.

Publication date: September 24th 2019

Article download: Pages 123-136 (PDF file)

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