Development of partial thickness articular cartilage injury in an ovine model

J Orthop Res. 2006 Oct;24(10):1974-82. doi: 10.1002/jor.20249.


The purpose of this study was to create a controlled partial thickness cartilage lesion in a sheep model, and to provide a foundation to study the natural history of the progression of this lesion. Twenty-eight sheep divided into four groups (1, 12, 24, and 52 weeks, n=7/group) were used in this study. In one stifle, a mechanical tool was used to create a 200 microm partial thickness lesion (1.5x1.5 cm2) on the medial femoral condyle via arthroscopy. Joint fluid was drawn presurgery and after euthanasia for analysis of collage II 3/4 C (long) (C2C). After euthanasia, the condyle was analyzed by gross appearance, confocal laser microscopy (CLM) for cell viability, scanning electronic microscopy (SEM) for surface roughness, Artscan for cartilage stiffness, and histology for cartilage morphology. The gross appearance of the treated area appeared rough, soft, and swollen compared to untreated control over time. CLM demonstrated that the depth of cell death increased to 590 microm at 52 weeks after surgery. SEM demonstrated that the treated area became more irregular over time. Stiffness of the treated area was significantly less than control by 12 weeks after surgery. Histologic analysis demonstrated that the 12, 24, and 52 week groups had significantly poorer histologic scores than the 1 week group. Joint fluid analysis demonstrated that the treatment group at 1 week had significant higher levels of C2C than the pretreatment baseline data. The results of this study demonstrated that partial thickness injury of cartilage continued to propagate and degenerate over time in this sheep model. Options for the prevention or treatment of this lesion may be tested using this model in the future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cartilage, Articular / injuries*
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Female
  • Knee Injuries / pathology*
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Sheep / injuries*