Metabolic regulation of intrasynovial flexor tendon repair: The effects of dichloroacetate administration on early tendon healing in a canine model

Richard H. Gelberman, Ryan A. Lane, Shelly E. Sakiyama-Elbert, Stavros Thomopoulos, Hua Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Enriched in glycolytic enzymes, paucicellular and hypovascular intrasynovial flexor tendons fail to mount an effective healing response after injury and repair. In contrast, well-vascularized extrasynovial flexor tendons possess high levels of oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) enzymes and have a markedly improved healing capacity. This study was designed to compare the metabolic profiles of the two types of tendons and to evaluate the impact of metabolic reprogramming on early intrasynovial tendon healing in a clinically relevant canine model. Results showed that healthy intrasynovial tendons expressed higher levels of PDK1 and GAPDH and lower levels of SCX and IGF1 than did extrasynovial tendons. PDK1 encodes a subtype of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) that inhibits OXPHOS. Consistently, ATP production via glycolysis was favored in intrasynovial tendon cells whereas OXPHOS was the preferred pathway in extrasynovial tendon cells. Inhibition of glycolysis in vitro increased SCX expression in intrasynovial tendon cells. Therefore, dichloroacetate (DCA), a PDK1 inhibitor, was used in vivo to shift intrasynovial tendon ATP production from glycolysis to OXPHOS. Oral DCA administration reduced serum lactate concentration and increased acetyl-CoA content in repaired intrasynovial tendons and led to reduced TLR4 and IL1B and increased IGF1, SCX, and TGFB3 expressions in treated intrasynovial tendons compared to controls. Immunohistochemistry staining with anti-Ki67 and anti-CD31 antibodies revealed marked increases in cellularity and neovascularization in treated intrasynovial tendons. Clinical significance: The findings of this experiment indicate that improved gene expression and histological outcomes can be achieved by regulating glucose metabolism in the early stages following intrasynovial tendon repair.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-289
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • dichloroacetate
  • glucose metabolism
  • glycolysis
  • intrasynovial flexor tendon repair
  • oxidative phosphorylation


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