A quantitative label-free analysis of the extracellular proteome of human supraspinatus tendon reveals damage to the pericellular and elastic fibre niches in torn and aged tissue.
Hakimi O., Ternette N., Murphy R., Kessler BM., Carr A.
Tears of the human supraspinatus tendon are common and often cause painful and debilitating loss of function. Progressive failure of the tendon leading to structural abnormality and tearing is accompanied by numerous cellular and extra-cellular matrix (ECM) changes in the tendon tissue. This proteomics study aimed to compare torn and aged rotator cuff tissue to young and healthy tissue, and provide the first ECM inventory of human supraspinatus tendon generated using label-free quantitative LC-MS/MS. Employing two digestion protocols (trypsin and elastase), we analysed grain-sized tendon supraspinatus biopsies from older patients with torn tendons and from healthy, young controls. Our findings confirm measurable degradation of collagen fibrils and associated proteins in old and torn tendons, suggesting a significant loss of tissue organisation. A particularly marked reduction of cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) raises the possibility of using changes in levels of this glycoprotein as a marker of abnormal tissue, as previously suggested in horse models. Surprisingly, and despite using an elastase digestion for validation, elastin was not detected, suggesting that it is not highly abundant in human supraspinatus tendon as previously thought. Finally, we identified marked changes to the elastic fibre, fibrillin-rich niche and the pericellular matrix. Further investigation of these regions may yield other potential biomarkers and help to explain detrimental cellular processes associated with tendon ageing and tendinopathy.