Vulnerability of the superficial zone of immature articular cartilage to compressive injury
Author(s)Rolauffs, Bernd; Muehleman, Carol; Li, Jun; Kurz, Bodo; Kuettner, Klaus E.; Frank, Eliot; Grodzinsky, Alan J.; ... Show more Show less
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Objective The zonal composition and functioning of adult articular cartilage causes depth-dependent responses to compressive injury. In immature cartilage, shear and compressive moduli as well as collagen and sulfated glycosaminoglycan (sGAG) content also vary with depth. However, there is little understanding of the depth-dependent damage caused by injury. Since injury to immature knee joints most often causes articular cartilage lesions, this study was undertaken to characterize the zonal dependence of biomechanical, biochemical, and matrix-associated changes caused by compressive injury. Methods Disks from the superficial and deeper zones of bovine calves were biomechanically characterized. Injury to the disks was achieved by applying a final strain of 50% compression at 100%/second, followed by biomechanical recharacterization. Tissue compaction upon injury as well as sGAG density, sGAG loss, and biosynthesis were measured. Collagen fiber orientation and matrix damage were assessed using histology, diffraction-enhanced x-ray imaging, and texture analysis. Results Injured superficial zone disks showed surface disruption, tissue compaction by 20.3 ± 4.3% (mean ± SEM), and immediate biomechanical impairment that was revealed by a mean ± SEM decrease in dynamic stiffness to 7.1 ± 3.3% of the value before injury and equilibrium moduli that were below the level of detection. Tissue areas that appeared intact on histology showed clear textural alterations. Injured deeper zone disks showed collagen crimping but remained undamaged and biomechanically intact. Superficial zone disks did not lose sGAG immediately after injury, but lost 17.8 ± 1.4% of sGAG after 48 hours; deeper zone disks lost only 2.8 ± 0.3% of sGAG content. Biomechanical impairment was associated primarily with structural damage. Conclusion The soft superficial zone of immature cartilage is vulnerable to compressive injury, causing superficial matrix disruption, extensive compaction, and textural alteration, which results in immediate loss of biomechanical function. In conjunction with delayed superficial sGAG loss, these changes may predispose the articular surface to further softening and tissue damage, thus increasing the risk of development of secondary osteoarthritis.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Center for Biomedical Engineering; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Biological Engineering
Arthritis and Rheumatism
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Rolauffs, Bernd et al. “Vulnerability of the superficial zone of immature articular cartilage to compressive injury.” Arthritis & Rheumatism 62 (2010): 3016-3027. Web. 26 Oct. 2011. © 2010 Arthritis & Rheumatism
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