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Love Me Tendon
20 September 2015

Love Me Tendon

Tendons are the strong 'cables' which bind muscle to bone; they develop in carefully-engineered stages. These computer simulations show cross-sections through mouse tendons before and after birth – there has been a remarkable change. In the embryonic tendon (left), individually-coloured cells appear rounded and squashed together; they form a sort of scaffolding for what comes next. By the time the mouse is six weeks old (right), the tendon cells are stretched out into star shapes, providing support for bundles of collagen fibres growing up through the gaps. Collagen fibres run the entire length of human tendons, too, allowing us to cope with the strong forces generated by our muscles. Researchers believe these simulations provide important insights, not just into the development of the skeletal-muscular system, but how the behaviour of cells in living tissues can change dramatically before and after birth.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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