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The role of mechanobiology in progression of rotator cuff muscle atrophy and degeneration

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Rotator cuff (RC) muscles undergo several detrimental changes following mechanical unloading resulting from RC tendon tear. In this review, we highlight the pathological causes and consequences of mechanical alterations at the whole muscle, muscle fiber, and muscle resident cell level as they relate to RC disease progression. In brief, the altered mechanical loads associated with RC tear lead to architectural, structural, and compositional changes at the whole-muscle and muscle fiber level. At the cellular level, these changes equate to direct disruption of mechanobiological signaling, which is exacerbated by mechanically regulated biophysical and biochemical changes to the cellular and extra-cellular environment (also known as the stem cell "niche"). Together, these data have important implications for both pre-clinical models and clinical practice. In pre-clinical models, it is important to recapitulate both the atrophic and degenerative muscle loss found in humans using clinically relevant modes of injury. Clinically, understanding the mechanics and underlying biology of the muscle will impact both surgical decision-making and rehabilitation protocols, as interventions that may be good for atrophic muscle will have a detrimental effect on degenerating muscle, and vice versa. © 2017 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 36:546-556, 2018.

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