Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Greater glycosaminoglycan content in human patellar tendon biopsies is associated with more pain and a lower VISA score
  1. Mohamed Attia1,2,
  2. Alexander Scott3,
  3. Gilles Carpentier1,
  4. Øystein Lian4,
  5. Toin Van Kuppevelt5,
  6. Camille Gossard6,
  7. Dulce Papy-Garcia1,
  8. Marie-Claude Tassoni2,6,
  9. Isabelle Martelly1
  1. 1Laboratoire CRRET, Université Paris-Est Créteil, Créteil, France
  2. 2Département de mécanobiologie, Cogitobio, Cachan, France
  3. 3Department of Physical Therapy, Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  4. 4Kristiansund Hospital, Kristiansund, Norway
  5. 5The Department of Biochemistry, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life Sciences, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  6. 6Osteobio, Ecole Supérieure d'Ostéopathie et de Biomécanique Appliquée, Cachan, France
  1. Correspondence to Professor Isabelle Martelly, Laboratoire CRRET CNRS EAC 7149, Université Paris-Est Créteil, 61 Av du Général de Gaulle 94010 Créteil Cedex France; martelly{at}


Background People with patellar tendinopathy experience chronic pain and activity limitation, but a pertinent biochemical marker correlated with these clinical features has not been identified. The Victoria Institute of Sport Assessment (VISA) questionnaire is a condition-specific patient-rated outcome measure. Since the quantity of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) increases with advancing tendon pathology, we hypothesised that there would be a correlation between the quantity of GAGs in the patellar tendon and the VISA score.

Methods Tissue biopsies from athletes with chronic patellar tendinopathy (confirmed by clinical examination and MRI) were recruited (n=7), as well as controls with no history of knee pain (n=4). The quantity of sulphated GAGs in the human patellar tendons was determined with a dimethyl methylene blue (DMMB) assay; this method was first validated with rat tendon tissue. The extent and distribution of GAG species and proteoglycans (decorin, versican and aggrecan) in the human tendon biopsies were examined using immunohistochemistry.

Results Greater sulphated GAG content of the patellar tendon was correlated with the greater tendon dysfunction (R2=0.798). The quantity of aggrecan in the tendon, a chondroitin sulphate-rich proteoglycan, also increased with advancing tendon pathology.

Conclusions Increased GAGs in the pathological human patellar tendon are related to a worse clinical status. These findings indicate that the VISA score reflects the extent of tendon tissue pathology.

  • Orthopaedics
  • Biomechanics
  • Tendons
  • Knee injuries
  • Shoulder injuries

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Linked Articles