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J Orthop Res. 2000 Mar;18(2):220-7.

Time-dependent increases in type-III collagen gene expression in medical collateral ligament fibroblasts under cyclic strains.

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Department of Bioengineering, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0412, USA.


Numerous studies have demonstrated the capacity of mechanical strains to modulate cell behavior through several different signaling pathways. Understanding the response of ligament fibroblasts to mechanically induced strains may provide useful knowledge for treating ligament injury and improving rehabilitation regimens. Biomechanical studies that quantify strains in the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments have shown that these ligaments are subjected to 4-5% strains during normal activities and can be strained to 7.7% during external application of loads to the knee joint. The objective of this study was to characterize the expression of types I and III collagen in fibroblast monolayers of anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments subjected to equibiaxial strains on flexible growth surfaces (0.05 and 0.075 strains) by quantifying levels of mRNA encoding these two proteins. Both cyclic strain magnitudes were studied under a frequency of 1 Hz. The results indicated marked differences in responses to strain regimens not only between types I and III collagen mRNA expression within each cell type but also in patterns of expression between anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligament cells. Whereas anterior cruciate ligament fibroblasts responded to cyclic strains by expression of higher levels of type-I collagen message with almost no significant increases in type-III collagen, medial collateral ligament fibroblasts exhibited statistically significant increases in type-III collagen mRNA at all time points after initiation of strain with almost no significant increases in type-I collagen. Furthermore, differences in responses by fibroblasts from the two ligaments were detected between the two strain magnitudes. In particular, 0.075 strains induced a time-dependent increase in type-III collagen mRNA levels in medial collateral ligament fibroblasts whereas 0.05 strains did not. The strain-induced changes in gene expression of these two collagens may have implications for the healing processes in ligament tissue. The differences may explain, in part, the healing differential between the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in vivo.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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