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Tendon transcriptomics is a rapidly growing field in musculoskeletal biology. The ultimate aim of many current tendon transcriptomic studies is characterization of in vitro, ex vivo or in vivo, healthy and diseased tendon microenvironments to identify the underlying pathways driving human tendon pathology. The transcriptome interfaces between genomic, proteomic and metabolomic signatures of the tendon cellular niche and the response of this niche to stimuli. Some of the greatest bottlenecks relate to the availability and quality of human tendon tissue, hence animal tissues are frequently used even though human tissue is most translationally relevant. Here we review the variability associated with human donor and procurement factors, such as whether the tendon is cadaveric or a clinical remnant, and how these variables affect the quality and relevance of the transcriptomes obtained. Moreover, age, sex, and health demographic variables impact the human tendon transcriptome. Tendons present tissue-specific challenges for cell, nuclei and RNA extraction that include a dense extracellular matrix, low cellularity, and therefore low RNA yield of variable quality. Consideration of these factors is particularly important for single-cell and single-nuclei resolution transcriptomics due to the necessity for unbiased and representative cell or nuclei populations. Different cell, nuclei and RNA extraction methods, library preparation and quality control methods are used by the tendon research community and attention should be paid to these when designing and reporting studies. We discuss the different components and challenges of human tendon transcriptomics, and propose pipelines, quality control and reporting guidelines for future work in the field. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original publication




Journal article


J Orthop Res

Publication Date



Tendon, publication guidelines, quality control, sequencing, tissue source, transcriptomics