Researchers looked at the nucleus of cells inside connective tissues that were deteriorating due to tendinosis. Disease-related disruptions in the environments in which cells exist resulted in the re-organization of the genome – the sum of an organism’s DNA sequences – inside the cell’s nucleus, changing the way cells function and rendering them unable to reorder their DNA information in the correct order. The findings suggest that new treatments, such as small-molecule therapies, could be developed to restore order to the affected cells.
Connective tissue cells that are diseased change the physical structure of their genomes and stop responding to normal physical cues from their surroundings. The researchers investigated how cells in degenerating connective tissue respond to environmental changes.
The researchers observed human cell models using the most advanced super-resolution imaging techniques. They specifically studied tenocytes (tendon cells involved in tissue structure maintenance) and mesenchymal stromal cells (similar to stem cells, they can become various cells needed to build or maintain tissue).
Cells in diseased microenvironments lose their epigenetic memory, according to the researchers. The findings also imply that epigenetic treatments, such as small-molecule therapies, could restore healthy genome organization and may be effective treatments for conditions affecting dense tissues.