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J Orthop Res. 1997 Mar;15(2):197-203.

Physical properties of rabbit articular cartilage after transection of the anterior cruciate ligament.

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Department of Bioengineering and Institute for Biomedical Engineering, University of California-San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0412, USA.


The effect of unilateral transection of the anterior cruciate ligament on the confined compression and swelling properties of the distal femoral articular cartilage of skeletally mature rabbits at 9 weeks after surgery was determined. Gross morphological grading of the transected and contralateral control distal femora stained with India ink confirmed that cartilage degeneration had been induced by ligament transection. Osteochondral cores, 1.8 mm in diameter, were harvested from the medial femoral condyles. The modulus, permeability, and electrokinetic (streaming potential) coefficient of the articular cartilage of the osteochondral cores were assessed by confined compression creep experiments. The properties (mean +/- SD) of control cartilage were: confined compression modulus, 0.75 +/- 0.28 MPa; hydraulic permeability, 0.63 +/- 0.28 x 10(-15) m2/Pa*sec; and electrokinetic coefficient, 0.16 +/- 0.31 x 10(-9) V/Pa. In transected knees, the modulus was reduced by 18% (p = 0.04), while the permeability and electrokinetic coefficient were not detectably altered. The change in modulus was accompanied by a trend (p = 0.07) toward a decrease (-11%) in the glycosaminoglycan density within the tissue, a significant increase (p < 0.001) in the water content of the cartilage after equilibration in 1 x phosphate buffered saline from 70.3 +/- 4.1% in control knees to 75.2 +/- 4.0% in transected knees, and little further swelling after tissue equilibration in hypotonic saline. The compressive modulus of the cartilage from both control and transected knees was positively correlated with the density of tissue glycosaminoglycan. The alterations in the physical properties of the articular cartilage after transection of the anterior cruciate ligament in the rabbit show trends similar to those observed in human and other animal models of osteoarthritis and provide further support for the use of this model in the study of cartilage degeneration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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