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Discovering clues to chronic muscle degeneration after rotator cuff tear

Collaborators

Rotator cuff tears can lead to long-term muscle degeneration, even after surgery and other treatments. To understand why that is happening and hopefully improve treatment strategies, Alliance faculty Samuel Ward and his team collected a richer dataset than previous studies to examine changes in gene expressions after a rotator cuff tear. They were surprised by their findings. 

Though gene expression changes peaked one week after the tear and then decreased as expected, they also observed a resurgence of the changes at 16 weeks. The genetic changes at 16 weeks were related to muscle degradation, inflammation, tissue scarring, and fatty proliferation – changes that could be seen in the muscle tissue themselves and potentially indicated chronic injury. The study was conducted in rabbits. Its findings expand our understanding of the biological pathways underlying rotator cuff disease and could inform repair and therapy strategies. 

Ward leads the Triton Center for Performance and Injury Science, an Innovation Hub of the Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance that is creating a repository of tissue and cell samples from athletes to advance our understanding of human performance.

Read the full scientific article in Frontiers in Physiology

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