Centrifugal and biochemical comparison of proteoglycan aggregates from articular cartilage in experimental joint disuse and joint instability.
Two models involving altered joint loading were compared with regard to their effects on the biochemical composition and proteoglycan aggregate structure of articular cartilage. Disuse atrophy was created in greyhound dogs by nonrigid immobilization of the right knee in 90 degrees of flexion, and joint instability was created by transection of the anterior cruciate ligament. Similarities and differences between the two experimental groups at two different time periods were examined to investigate why joint instability induces progressive and irreversible changes to the articular cartilage, whereas joint disuse induces changes that may be reversible when the joint is remobilized. The following studies were performed on the cartilage from all experimental and control groups: (a) compositional analyses to determine water, uronate, and hydroxyproline contents; (b) high performance liquid chromatography for detection of hyaluronan and chondroitin sulfates; and (c) centrifugation analyses of nondissociatively extracted and purified proteoglycans to isolate and quantify the populations of monomers and slow and fast-sedimenting families of aggregates. In general, all cartilage was found to have a decreased ratio of proteoglycan to collagen after 4 weeks of disuse, and this ratio returned to control values at 8 weeks. In contrast, cartilage had an elevated ratio of proteoglycan to collagen as well as increased hydration at 12 weeks after transection of the anterior cruciate ligament. The most striking contrast between the two models was the finding of an approximately 80% decrease in the content of hyaluronan at both time periods after transection of the anterior cruciate ligament, with no evidence of a change after disuse. The results of centrifugation analyses indicated a significant decrease in the quantity of proteoglycan aggregates in both models. However, this decrease was associated primarily with a loss of slow-sedimenting aggregates after disuse and a loss of both slow and fast-sedimenting aggregates after transection of the anterior cruciate ligament. Furthermore, the population of fast-sedimenting aggregates was depleted to a greater extent than that of the slow-sedimenting aggregates. The preservation of fast-sedimenting aggregates as well as hyaluronan after periods of joint disuse but not joint instability suggests a possible mechanism for the reversibility of cartilage changes. Although the proteoglycan aggregates were depleted after disuse atrophy, it is possible that an aggregate-depleted matrix could recover when normal proteoglycan synthesis is resumed. In contrast, although synthesis may be maintained or elevated after transection of the anterior cruciate ligament, the matrix may not be repopulated with aggregates because there is an insufficient amount of hyaluronan.
Müller, FJ; Setton, LA; Manicourt, DH; Mow, VC; Howell, DS; Pita, JC
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