Severe burn causes systemic inflammation and hypercatabolism, resulting in damage to multiple organs distant to the burn site, including the musculoskeletal system. Bone mass and muscle loss have been reported. However, tendon that connects bone and muscle has not been studied in comparable detail. Here we aimed to characterize the molecular and functional changes in Achilles tendon triggered by severe burn. Forty male Sprague–Dawley rats received 40% total body surface area scald burn. Achilles tendons were collected up to 14 days postburn. Sham-treated animals served as a control group. We analyzed tendons for changes in expression of IL-6, IL-1β, TNF, MMP9, MMP13, TGFβ1, Collagens I and III, and for morphological and biomechanical changes. Gene expression of IL-6 and IL-1β as well as MMP9 and MMP13 increased in rat tendon 3 days after burn. Col3a1 increased at day 3 and col1a1 at day 7. At day 14, TGFβ1 increased, whereas the protein ratio for collagens I/III decreased, indicating tendon remodeling. Histological analysis with H&E and Picrosirius red staining further revealed a decrease in organized collagen fibers 14 days after burn. Biomechanical analysis showed a decrease in stiffness and ultimate force of tendons in burn rats.
We conclude that tendinopathy was observed in Achilles tendon 14 days after severe burn, via the induction of inflammation and remodeling. The present study provides a model of tendinopathy that may be used for the development of therapeutic approaches after burn.