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Muscle, Ligaments and Tendons Journal

The effect of strain and age on the mechanical properties of rat Achilles tendons

Original Article, 548 - 553
doi: 10.11138/mltj/2017.7.3.548
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Abstract
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Background: Achilles tendon (AT) ruptures are common in the middle age population; however, the pathophysiology and influence of age on AT ruptures is not fully understood. This study evaluates the effect and interactions between, strain and age on the in vitro biomechanical properties of ATs.
Methods: Bilateral ATs were harvested from 17 young (8 months) and 14 middle-aged (24 months) rats and underwent stress-relaxation using Fung’s quasilinear viscoelastic (QLV) modeling
and load-to-failure testing.
Results: The initial viscoelastic response (parameter B) in middle-age animals was dependent on the amount of strain applied to the tendon and was significantly increased in middle-aged animals at higher strain. Higher strain in older animals led to a prolonged relaxation time (parameter tau 2). There was a trend toward an increased magnitude of the relaxation response (parameter C) at higher strain in the middle-aged animals. Middle-aged animals had a significantly lower mean stress at ultimate failure (p=0.01), while
Young’s modulus was similar in both groups (p=0.46).
Conclusions: The passive biomechanical properties of the rat AT change with age and the influence stress-relaxation response of the AT, thereby possibly predisposing the AT of older animals to fail at lower loads compared to younger animals.
Level of evidence: Not applicable, this is a basic science study.

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