Tendons Show Improved Healing with Glycosaminoglycan Polysulfate

Injecting glycosaminoglycan polysulfate directly into lesions of the superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT) significantly improves reorganization of the tendon's collagen bundles during the healing process, report Brazilian veterinary researchers.

Tendon injuries are an important source of lameness and decreased performance in horses. Despite aggressive management, there is a high rate of recurrence associated with these injuries.

In the absence of universally effective therapies for tendon injuries, researchers from Barão de Mauá University Center in Ribeirão Preto, Brazil, examined the effect of polysulfated glycosaminoglycan (trade name Adequan) injections on the organization of collagen fibers in the superficial digital flexor tendons of horses.

They experimentally-induced tendonitis in the front left SDFT of 10 horses. After one week, the affected tendons were subsequently injected with either 1.0 mL of Adequan or saline, administered four days apart for a total of five doses. Horses in both groups were confined to stalls for 60 days then moved to restricted paddocks until 150 days after initiation of the tendonitis.

On day 150, the tendons were collected and examined microscopically to evaluate the organization of the collagen bundles in the tendons.

According to the authors, 77% of collagen bundles were "organized" in the tendons from the treated group, which was significantly higher than the 66% of "organized" bundles measured in the untreated group's tendons. This increase in organization indicates "remodeling of the scar," the authors noted.

Adequan is currently licensed for intramuscular and intra-articular (carpus) use only. See the product insert.

The study, "Effects of glycosaminoglycan polysulfate on the organization of collagen fibers in experimentally induced tendonitis in horses," was published in the August 15 edition of the journal Veterinary Record. The abstract is available on PubMed.

About the Author

Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she's worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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