Mechanical properties of canine articular cartilage are significantly altered following transection of the anterior cruciate ligament.
The compressive, tensile, and swelling properties of articular cartilage were studied at two time periods following transection of the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee of greyhound dogs. An experimental protocol was designed to quantify the essential equilibrium and biphasic material properties of cartilage in tension, compression, and shear, as well as the parameters of isometric swelling behavior. All properties were measured at several sites to elicit differences between sites of frequent and less frequent contact. Hydration was determined at each site and was compared with the material properties of cartilage from corresponding sites. There were extensive changes in all compressive, tensile, and swelling properties of cartilage after transection of the anterior cruciate ligament. Twelve weeks after surgery, the intrinsic moduli were reduced significantly in compression (approximately 24% of control values), tension (approximately 64%), and shear (approximately 24%), and the hydraulic permeability was elevated significantly (approximately 48%). Significant increases in hydration (approximately 9%) also were observed, as well as a strong correlation of hydration with hydraulic permeability. The pattern of these changes was not found to differ with site in the joint, but significant differences were observed in the magnitude of change for cartilage from the femoral groove and the femoral condyle. The pattern and extent of changes in the material properties following transection of the anterior cruciate ligament indicate that altered loading of the joint severely compromises the overall mechanical behavior of articular cartilage. The observed loss of matrix stiffness in compression, tension, and shear is associated with increases in the deformation of the solid matrix, a diminished ability to resist swelling, and the increase in hydration observed in this study. The increased swelling and elevated water content were related directly to the increase in hydraulic permeability; this suggests an associated loss of fluid pressurization as the load support mechanism in the degenerated cartilage. Without a successful mechanism for repair, damage to the solid matrix may progress and lead to further degenerative changes in the biochemistry, morphology, and mechanical behavior of articular cartilage.
Setton, LA; Mow, VC; Müller, FJ; Pita, JC; Howell, DS
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