Elastic fibers in orthopedics: Form and function in tendons and ligaments, clinical implications, and future directions

Jeffrey Ryan Hill, Jeremy D. Eekhoff, Robert H. Brophy, Spencer P. Lake

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Elastic fibers are an essential component of the extracellular matrix of connective tissues. The focus of both clinical management and scientific investigation of elastic fiber disorders has centered on the cardiovascular manifestations due to their significant impact on morbidity and mortality. As such, the current understanding of the orthopedic conditions experienced by these patients is limited. The musculoskeletal implications of more subtle elastic fiber abnormalities, whether due to allelic variants or age-related tissue degeneration, are also not well understood. Recent advances have begun to uncover the effects of elastic fiber deficiency on tendon and ligament biomechanics; future research must further elucidate mechanisms governing the role of elastic fibers in these tissues. The identification of population-based genetic variations in elastic fibers will also be essential. Minoxidil administration, modulation of protein expression with micro-RNA molecules, and direct injection of recombinant elastic fiber precursors have demonstrated promise for therapeutic intervention, but further work is required prior to consideration for orthopedic clinical application. This review provides an overview of the role of elastic fibers in musculoskeletal tissue, summarizes current knowledge of the orthopedic manifestations of elastic fiber abnormalities, and identifies opportunities for future investigation and clinical application.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2305-2317
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • contracture
  • elastic fiber
  • hypermobility
  • ligament
  • tendon


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