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Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 1993 Oct;1(4):243-51.

Hindlimb loading, morphology and biochemistry of articular cartilage in the ACL-deficient cat knee.

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Faculty of Physical Education, The University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4, Canada.


The cat hindlimb is the best studied animal model of neuromuscular control, muscle mechanics/muscle morphology, and locomotor kinematics. Therefore, this model offers itself for intervention studies, where a musculoskeletal parameter is perturbed and the effects of this perturbation are compared with normal function. The objective of this study was to describe the effects of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) transection in the cat knee and to correlate hindlimb loading with morphological and biochemical changes of articular cartilage. A distinct unloading of the deficient hindlimb was found when compared with the nonoperated hindlimb immediately after ACL transection, and persisted for about 16-18 weeks. Beyond about 18 weeks post-ACL transection, hindlimb loading returned to the symmetric pattern observed before surgery. In accordance with the expectations from the force-platform results, a decrease in muscle mass was found from muscles of the experimental hindlimb when compared to the mass of muscles from the contralateral hindlimb. This decrease of muscle mass was largest at 4 weeks and smallest at 35 weeks post-ACL transection. At 12 and 35 weeks post-ACL transection, cell density was increased and absolute amounts of hexuronic acid were elevated in the articular cartilage of the experimental knee compared with the corresponding values of the contralateral knee. Progressive changes of the articular cartilage towards osteoarthritis (OA) were not observed in the time frame of this experiment. The results suggest that anterior cruciate ligament transection in the cat produces initial changes in the knee that are similar to those observed previously in the dog and rabbit.

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