Pulsed LLLT improves tendon healing in rats: a biochemical, organizational, and functional evaluation
INTRODUCTION Tendon lesions are still a serious clinical problem. The leaves of the Bignoniaceae Arrabidaea chica (Humb. & Bonpl.) B. Verlot. (syn. Bignonia chica (Bonpl.)) have been used in traditional medicine and described in the literature for its healing properties. However, no study has shown the effects of A. chica during tendon healing. The aim of this study was to investigate the healing properties of the A. chica leaves extract on tendons after partial transection. METHODS A partial transection in the tension region of the Achilles tendon of rats was performed with subsequent posterior topical application of A. chica extract (2.13g/mL in 0.85% saline solution) at the site of the injury. The animals (n=154) were separated into 7 groups: N - rats with tendons without transection; S7, S14 and S21 - rats with tendons treated with topical applications of saline for 7 days and sacrificed on the 7th, 14th and 21st days after surgery, respectively; A7, A14 and A21 - rats with tendons treated with topical applications of the plant extract. The transected regions of the tendons were analyzed through biochemical, morphological and functional analyses. To evaluate the type and concentration of collagen, Western blotting for collagen types I and III was performed, and the hydroxyproline concentration was determined. The participation of metalloproteinases (MMP)-2 and -9 during tendon remodelling was investigated through zymography. Gait recovery was analyzed using the catwalk system. The organization of the extracellular matrix and morphometry were detected in sections stained with haematoxylin-eosin. RESULTS The application of A. chica extract in the region of tendon injury led to an increase in the amount of hydroxyproline (mg/g tissue) on the 7th (91.5±18.9) and 21st (95.8±11.9) days after the tendon lesion relative to the control groups treated with saline (S7: 75.2±7.2; and S21: 71.9±7.9). There were decreases in collagen types I and III (as determined by densitometry) in the groups treated with the plant extract 7 days after injury (type I: 103.9±15.9; type III: 206.3±8.1) compared to the saline-treated groups (type I: 165.2±31.1; type III: 338.6±48.8). The plant extract stimulated the synthesis of MMP-2 on the 21st day after the lesion and decreased the amount of latent and active isoforms of MMP-9 on the 14th day. Analysis by the catwalk system (max contact intensity) showed that the A. chica extract improved the gait of rats on the 7th day of the healing process when compared to the saline group. CONCLUSIONS The use of A. chica extract during the healing process of the tendon leads to an increase in collagen content and improved gait recovery. Further studies will be performed to analyze the effect of this plant extract on the organization of the collagen bundles of tendons after lesions and to study its probable anti-inflammatory effect.