Although the molecular mechanisms behind tendon disease remain obscure, aberrant stromal matrix turnover and tissue hypervascularity are known hallmarks of advanced tendinopathy. We harness a tendon explant model to unwind complex cross-talk between the stromal and vascular tissue compartments. We identify the hypervascular tendon niche as a state-switch that gates degenerative matrix remodeling within the tissue stroma. Here pathological conditions resembling hypervascular tendon disease provoke rapid cell-mediated tissue breakdown upon mechanical unloading, in contrast to unloaded tendons that remain functionally stable in physiological low-oxygen/-temperature niches. Analyses of the stromal tissue transcriptome and secretome reveal that a stromal niche with elevated tissue oxygenation and temperature drives a ROS mediated cellular stress response that leads to adoption of an immune-modulatory phenotype within the degrading stromal tissue. Degradomic analysis further reveals a surprisingly rich set of active matrix proteases behind the progressive loss of tissue mechanics. We conclude that the tendon stromal compartment responds to aberrant mechanical unloading in a manner that is highly dependent on the vascular niche, with ROS gating a complex proteolytic breakdown of the functional collagen backbone.
- Rective oxygen species (ROS)
- Tissue model