The death of articular chondrocytes after intra-articular fracture in humans

J Trauma. 2004 Jan;56(1):128-31. doi: 10.1097/01.TA.0000051934.96670.37.


Background: In this study, we wished to determine whether chondrocyte death occurs after intra-articular fracture and might thus contribute to the development of posttraumatic arthritis.

Methods: Articular fracture fragments were obtained from 30 patients and the terminal deoxynucleotide transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling assay was used to identify dead or dying cells.

Results: Dead or dying cells were identified in all fracture fragments, with an average rate of cell death of 35%. Rates of cell death greater than 90% were seen in 4 of the 30 specimens studied.

Conclusion: Although rates of apoptosis in osteoarthritis have been reported to average 15%, the rate in this fracture population was more than twice this value (35%). The high rate of cell death noted here may help explain the occurrence of posttraumatic arthritis even in anatomically fixed intra-articular fractures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cartilage, Articular / injuries
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology*
  • Cell Death
  • Chondrocytes / pathology*
  • DNA Fragmentation
  • Female
  • Fractures, Cartilage / classification*
  • Humans
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis / etiology