BACKGROUND: Achilles tendinopathy is the most prevalent tendon disorder in people engaged in running and jumping sports. Aetiology of Achilles tendinopathy is complex and requires comprehensive research of contributing risk factors. There is relatively little research focussing on potential biomedical risk factors for Achilles tendinopathy. The purpose of this systematic review is to identify studies and summarise current knowledge of biomedical risk factors of Achilles tendinopathy in physically active people.
METHODS: Research databases were searched for relevant articles followed by assessment in accordance with PRISMA statement and standards of Cochrane collaboration. Levels of evidence and quality assessment designation were implemented in accordance with OCEBM levels of evidence and Newcastle-Ottawa Quality Assessment Scale, respectively.
RESULTS: A systematic review of the literature identified 22 suitable articles. All included studies had moderate level of evidence (2b) with the Newcastle-Ottawa score varying between 6 and 9. The majority (17) investigated genetic polymorphisms involved in tendon structure and homeostasis and apoptosis and inflammation pathways. Overweight as a risk factor of Achilles tendinopathy was described in five included studies that investigated non-genetic factors. COL5A1 genetic variants were the most extensively studied, particularly in association with genetic variants in the genes involved in regulation of cell-matrix interaction in tendon and matrix homeostasis. It is important to investigate connections and pathways whose interactions might be disrupted and therefore alter collagen structure and lead to the development of pathology. Polymorphisms in genes involved in apoptosis and inflammation, and Achilles tendinopathy did not show strong association and, however, should be considered for further investigation.
CONCLUSIONS: This systematic review suggests that biomedical risk factors are an important consideration in the future study of propensity to the development of Achilles tendinopathy. The presence of certain medical comorbidities and genetic markers should be considered when contemplating the aetiology of Achilles tendinopathy. Further elucidation of biomedical risk factors will aid in the understanding of tendon pathology and patient risk, thereby informing prevention and management strategies for Achilles tendinopathy.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: PROSPERO CRD42016036558.