Nonenzymatic glycation of connective tissue matrix proteins is a major contributor to the pathology of diabetes and aging. Previously the author and colleagues have shown that nonenzymatic glycation significantly enhances the matrix stability in the Achilles tendon (Reddy et al., 2002, Arch. Biochem. Biophys., 399, 174-180). The present study was designed to gain further insight into glycation-induced collagen cross-linking and its relationship to matrix stiffness in the rabbit Achilles tendon. The glycation process was initiated by incubating the Achilles tendons (n = 6) in phosphate-buffered saline containing ribose, whereas control tendons (n = 6) were incubated in phosphate-buffered saline without ribose. Eight weeks following glycation, the biomechanical attributes as well as the degree of collagen cross-linking were determined to examine the potential associations between matrix stiffness and molecular properties of collagen. Compared to nonglycated tendons, the glycated tendons showed increased maximum load, stress, strain, Young's modulus of elasticity, and toughness indicating that glycation increases the matrix stiffness in the tendons. Glycation of tendons resulted in a considerable decrease in soluble collagen content and a significant increase in insoluble collagen and pentosidine. Analysis of potential associations between the matrix stiffness and degree of collagen cross-linking showed that both insoluble collagen and pentosidine exhibited a significant positive correlation with the maximum load, stress, and strain, Young's modulus of elasticity, and toughness (r values ranging from .61 to .94) in the Achilles tendons. However, the soluble collagen content present in neutral salt buffer, acetate buffer, and acetate buffer containing pepsin showed an inverse relation with the various biomechanical attributes tested (r values ranging from .22 to .84) in the Achilles tendons. The results of the study demonstrate that glycation-induced collagen cross-linking is directly associated with the increased matrix stiffness and other mechanical attributes of the tendon.
Reddy, G. K. (2004). Cross-linking in collagen by nonenzymatic glycation increases the matrix stiffness in rabbit Achilles tendon. Experimental Diabesity Research, 5(2), 143–153. https://doi.org/10.1080/15438600490277860