Ultrasound is an effective noninvasive treatment for various tendinopathies. However, how tenocytes convert ultrasound stimulation into cascades of cellular and molecular events is not well understood. The purpose of this study is to elucidate the signaling pathways of tenocytes during ultrasound stimulation. Primary cultures of tenocytes were harvested from Achilles tendons of SpragueDawley rats. The viability and proliferation of tenocytes, their genes expression, and the signaling pathways after ultrasound treatment with or without specific inhibitors were evaluated and analyzed. The results showed that ultrasound treatment (100 mW/cm 2 for 20 min) significantly enhanced matrix metalloproteinase 13 (MMP-13), c-Fos, and c-Jun gene expression, increased JNK and p38, but not extracellular signal-regulated kinase-1/2 (ERK1/2), phosphorylation at 5 min, and sustained up to 60 min. JNK inhibitor and p38 inhibitor, but not ERK1/2 inhibitor, attenuated ultrasound-dependent induction of MMP-13 expression, indicating that the JNK and p38 pathways are required for ultrasound-induced MMP-13 expression in tenocytes. We also found that SB431542 (transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) receptor kinases inhibitor) suppressed ultrasound-induced MMP13 and c-Fos gene expression, and p38 phosphorylation. This study revealed that ultrasound treatment stimulates tenocytes proliferation and regulates their matrix metabolism through the cross-talk between TGF-β and ultrasound-induced mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) signaling pathways.
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