Is Synovial Fluid Toxic to Horse Tendons?

Researchers confirmed that synovial fluid is toxic to inner tendon cells, which could help explain why injuries within tendon sheaths and bursae have a poor prognosis for healing, they said.
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Is Synovial Fluid Toxic to Horse Tendons
Tendons are essential for transmitting forces from muscles to bones to making them move during locomotion. When injury occurs, that all-important tissue can tear. As if that isn’t bad enough, new research is showing that when those injuries occur to tendons covered by a synovial sheath, the inner tendon cells can be exposed to lubricating synovial fluid—a substance researchers recently determined is toxic for them. | Photo: iStock

Your horse’s body can’t function without tendons. These soft-tissue structures are essential for transmitting forces from muscles to bones to making them move during locomotion.

When a tendon injury occurs, that all-important tissue can tear. As if that isn’t bad enough, new research is showing that when those injuries occur to tendons covered by a synovial sheath, the inner tendon cells can be exposed to lubricating synovial fluid—a substance researchers recently determined is toxic for them.

Synovial fluid is in constant contact with tendons. But the tendon’s outer layer contains cells that are resistant to synovial fluid’s toxic nature. Once that outer layer is breached in certain types of injury, the cells on the inside of the tendon become exposed to the synovial fluid, which kills them, said Jayesh Dudhia, PhD, FHEA, a senior researcher in the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) Department of Clinical Sciences and Services, in Hertfordshire, UK

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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