Diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) is a kind of common and disabling complications of Diabetes Mellitus (DM). Emerging studies have demonstrated that tendon fibroblasts play a crucial role in remodeling phase of wound healing. However, little is known about the mechanism underlying high glucose (HG)-induced decrease of tendon fibroblasts viability. In the present study the rat models of DFU were established, and collagen deposition, autophagy activation and cell apoptosis in tendon tissues were assessed using hematoxylin-eosin (HE) staining, immunohistochemistry (IHC), and TdT-Mediated dUTP Nick-End Labeling (TUNEL) assay, respectively. Tendon fibroblasts were isolated from Achilles tendon of the both limbs, and the effect of HG on autophagy activation in tendon fibroblasts was assessed using western blot analysis, Cell Counting Kit-8 (CCK-8) assay, and flow cytometry. We found that cell apoptosis was increased significantly and autophagy activation was decreased in foot tendons tissues of DFU rats compared with normal tissues. The role of HG in regulating tendon fibroblasts viability was then investigated in vitro, and data showed that HG repressed cell viability and increased cell apoptosis. Furthermore, HG treatment reduced LC3-II expression and increased p62 expression, indicating that HG repressed the activation of tendon fibroblasts. The autophagy activator rapamycin reversed the effect. More important, rapamycin alleviated the suppressive role of HG in tendon fibroblasts viability. Taken together, our data demonstrate that HG represses tendon fibroblasts proliferation by inhibiting autophagy activation in tendon injury.

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