Enforced bipedal downhill running induces Achilles tendinosis in rats

Gabriel Yin Fat Ng, Polly Yee Man Chung, Jenny Shijie Wang, Tsz Hei Cheung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Enforced downhill running has been reported to induce tendinosis in the rat supraspinatus tendon but similar exercise failed to induce Achilles tendinosis in this animal. Due to the presence of acromial arch in the shoulder, accessing the supraspinatus tendon with physical modalities is difficult; thus this model may not be suitable for studying the treatment for tendinosis. To develop a rat model for Achilles tendinosis, we tested 14 mature SpragueDawley rats by dividing them into 2 groups of 7 each. The experimental group was subjected to a daily enforced downhill bipedal running program by suspending their upper bodies so that they ran with their hind limbs on a treadmill for 1 hr/day for 8 weeks. The downward inclination was 20°and the speed was 17 m/min. The animals in the control group did not undergo any exercise. After 8 weeks, the Achilles tendons were harvested and subjected to histological and biomechanical analysis. Histological examination revealed tenocyte proliferation, change in tenocytes appearance, and collagen bundle disintegration in the running group. The biomechanical testing revealed significant decrease in stiffness (p=0.002) and ultimate tensile strength (p=0.016) in the running group than in the control group. Both the histological and biomechanical findings are suggestive of changes in the tendon of the running group that resembled the pathological changes of tendinosis in human. This new model of Achilles tendinosis in rat will be useful for studying the etiology and subsequent management strategies of this condition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466-471
Number of pages6
JournalConnective Tissue Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011


  • Achilles tendon
  • Degeneration
  • Downhill running
  • Strength
  • Tendinopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Biochemistry
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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