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Ciprofloxacin reduces tenocyte viability and proteoglycan synthesis in short-term explant cultures of equine tendon

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Fluoroquinolones are an effective, broad-spectrum antibiotic used to treat an array of bacterial infections. However, they are associated with an increased risk of tendinopathy and tendon rupture even after discontinuation of treatment. This condition is known as fluoroquinolone-associated tendinopathy, the underlying mechanisms of which are poorly understood. While many factors may be involved in the pathophysiology of tendinopathies in general, changes in tenocyte metabolism and viability, as well as alteration of proteoglycan metabolism are prominent findings in the scientific literature. This study investigated the effects of ciprofloxacin, a common fluoroquinolone, on cell viability, proteoglycan synthesis, and proteoglycan mRNA expression in equine superficial digital flexor tendon explants after 96 h treatment with between 1-300 μg/mL ciprofloxacin, and again after 8 days discontinuation of treatment. Ciprofloxacin caused significant reductions in cell viability by between 25-33% at all dosages except 10 μg/mL, and viability decreased further after 8 days discontinuation of treatment. Proteoglycan synthesis significantly decreased by approximately 50% in explants treated with 100 μg/mL and 300 μg/mL, however this effect reversed after 8 days in the absence of treatment. No significant mRNA expression changes were observed after the treatment period with the exception of versican which was down-regulated at the highest concentration of ciprofloxacin. After the recovery period, aggrecan, biglycan and versican genes were all significantly downregulated in explants initially treated with 1-100 μg/mL. Results from this study corroborate previously reported findings of reduced cell viability and proteoglycan synthesis in a whole tissue explant model and provide further insight into the mechanisms underlying fluoroquinolone-associated tendinopathy and rupture. This study further demonstrates that certain ciprofloxacin induced cellular changes are not rapidly reversed upon cessation of treatment which is a novel finding in the literature.


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