Inflammation and tendon healing

Sammanfattning: Tendons heal through three different overlapping phases; the inflammatory, proliferative and remodeling phase. Many studies have investigated what factors influence healing of tendons. However, little was known about inflammation and the immune cells present during Achilles tendon healing by the time this thesis started. We developed a flow cytometry method for our rat model of tendon healing, which enabled us to study different leukocyte subpopulations during Achilles tendon healing.The general aim of this thesis was to understand more about inflammation and the immune cell populations present during tendon healing and how the immune cell composition changes during normal tendon healing. Moreover, we investigated how different factors that are known to influence tendon healing affected the composition of the immune cell population.First, we described the immune cells during the time course of tendon healing focusing on different subpopulations of macrophages and T cells. Then, we studied how these cells were influenced by reduced mechanical loading. Mechanical loading prolonged the presence of M1 macrophages and delayed the switch to regulatory T cells and M2 macrophages compared to reduced mechanical loading. Next, the effect of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) on the leukocyte composition revealed that, even though NSAIDs influence the mechanical properties of healing tendon, this effect was not mediated via changes in the leukocyte sub-populations during early and mid-time tendon healing. Further, the effect of corticosteroids during the inflammatory and remodeling phases of tendon healing was an improved healing of tendons and a reduction of CD8a T cells when corticosteroid was administered after the inflammatory phase. Lastly, we investigated if impairment of tendon healing by NSAIDs was related to mechanotransduction or microdamage during mechanical loading and showed that NSAIDs impair tendon healing by reducing the response to microdamage.In conclusion, these studies show that inflammation plays an important role during Achilles tendon healing, and factors that influence healing can also alter the presence or polarization of immune cell populations. 

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