Donor age and sex have limited effects on the mechanical and microstructural properties of human connective tissues

Ryan M. Castile, Paul C. Cannon, Matthew Smith, Robert H. Brophy, Spencer P. Lake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Connective tissues, such as tendons, ligaments, and capsules, play a large role in locomotion and joint stability and are often subjected to traumatic injuries and degeneration. The purpose of this study was to evaluate if the mechanical and microstructural properties of connective tissues correlate with the age and sex of the human donor. Dissected samples were prepared for mechanical testing, consisting of 10 cycles of preconditioning, a stress-relaxation ramp and hold, and a quasi-static ramp to failure. During the testing protocol, the microstructural organization of tissues was analyzed using quantitative polarized light imaging. A linear mixed model was used to assess whether tissue type, donor age, or donor sex were significantly associated with mechanical and microstructural tissue properties. Tissue type had a significant effect on all parameters, while donor age and sex did not. Groupings by tissue type (i.e., tendon vs. ligament vs. capsule) were evident for microstructural data, with tendons having a tighter grouping and ligaments having a larger spread of values. The interaction of tissue type and age yielded a significant effect for linear modulus only (p = 0.007), with the palmaris tendon appearing to have the largest contribution to this effect. There were no significant interaction effects between sex and tissue type or donor age. Donor age appears to affect linear modulus in some, but not all, tissue types. Otherwise, age and sex do not have significant effects on the mechanical and microstructural properties of the range of connective tissues that were analyzed in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1844-1852
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • age
  • connective tissues
  • gender
  • mechanics
  • microstructure


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