In tendon, type‐I collagen assembles together into fibrils, fibers, and fascicles that exhibit a wavy or crimped pattern that uncrimps with applied tensile loading. This structural property has been observed across multiple tendons throughout aging and may play an important role in tendon viscoelasticity, response to fatigue loading, healing, and development. Previous work has shown that crimp is permanently altered with the application of fatigue loading. This opens the possibility of evaluating tendon crimp as a clinical surrogate of tissue damage. The purpose of this study was to determine how fatigue loading in tendon affects crimp and mechanical properties throughout aging and between tendon types. Mouse patellar tendons (PT) and flexor digitorum longus (FDL) tendons were fatigue loaded while an integrated plane polariscope simultaneously assessed crimp properties at P150 and P570 days of age to model mature and aged tendon phenotypes (N = 10–11/group). Tendon type, fatigue loading, and aging were found to differentially affect tendon mechanical and crimp properties. FDL tendons had higher modulus and hysteresis, whereas the PT showed more laxity and toe region strain throughout aging. Crimp frequency was consistently higher in FDL compared with PT throughout fatigue loading, whereas the crimp amplitude was cycle dependent. This differential response based on tendon type and age further suggests that the FDL and the PT respond differently to fatigue loading and that this response is age‐dependent. Together, our findings suggest that the mechanical and structural effects of fatigue loading are specific to tendon type and age in mice.
ligament; tendon; biomechanics