Tendon extracellular matrix alterations in ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy

Francesca Sardone, Francesco Traina, Alice Bondi, Luciano Merlini, Spartaco Santi, Nadir Mario Maraldi, Cesare Faldini, Patrizia Sabatelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Collagen VI (COLVI) is a non-fibrillar collagen expressed in skeletal muscle and most connective tissues. Mutations in COLVI genes cause two major clinical forms, Bethlem myopathy and Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy (UCMD). In addition to congenital muscle weakness, patients affected by COLVI myopathies show axial and proximal joint contractures and distal joint hypermobility, which suggest the involvement of the tendon function. We examined a peroneal tendon biopsy and tenocyte culture of a 15-year-old patient affected by UCMD with compound heterozygous COL6A2 mutations. In patient's tendon biopsy, we found striking morphological alterations of tendon fibrils, consisting in irregular profiles and reduced mean diameter. The organization of the pericellular matrix of tenocytes, the primary site of collagen fibril assembly, was severely affected, as determined by immunoelectron microscopy, which showed an abnormal accumulation of COLVI and altered distribution of collagen I (COLI) and fibronectin (FBN). In patient's tenocyte culture, COLVI web formation and cell surface association were severely impaired; large aggregates of COLVI, which matched with COLI labeling, were frequently detected in the extracellular matrix. In addition, metalloproteinase MMP-2, an extracellular matrix-regulating enzyme, was increased in the conditioned medium of patient's tenocytes, as determined by gelatin zymography and western blot. Altogether, these data indicate that COLVI deficiency may influence the organization of UCMD tendon matrix, resulting in dysfunctional fibrillogenesis. The alterations of tendon matrix may contribute to the complex pathogenesis of COLVI related myopathies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number131
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Issue numberJUN
Publication statusPublished - Jun 8 2016


  • Collagen VI
  • Metalloproteinases
  • Pericellular matrix
  • Tendon
  • Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy (UCMD)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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