Alteration of knee joint connective tissues during contracture formation in spastic rats after an experimentally induced spinal cord injury

Connect Tissue Res. 2007;48(4):180-7. doi: 10.1080/03008200701413512.


This study was made to elucidate the changes in the periarticular connective tissue that can underlie the contracture after spasticity development. Sixteen Wistar rats underwent a spinal cord injury and 16 rats were either sham- or nonoperated. The periarticular connective tissue of the knee joint was assessed with histological, histomorphometric, immunohistochemical, and biochemical analyses. Histological results showed a smaller synovial intima, a dense subintimal and posterior joint capsule without fibrosis, and a disarranged posterior capsule in the spinal cord-injured knees with the flexion contracture. The synovial intima length was shortened only at the posterior capsule. Neither the distribution nor expression of type I and III collagen was affected. Contractures after spinal cord injuries are characterized by synovial intima adhesions. A dense and disarranged capsule may lead to joint stiffness. The alteration of periarticular connective tissues exhibits properties characteristic of the contracture after spasticity development.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Collagen Type I / analysis
  • Collagen Type III / analysis
  • Connective Tissue / chemistry
  • Connective Tissue / pathology*
  • Contracture / etiology
  • Contracture / pathology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Knee Joint / pathology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / pathology*
  • Stifle / chemistry
  • Stifle / pathology*
  • Synovial Membrane / chemistry
  • Synovial Membrane / pathology*
  • Time Factors


  • Collagen Type I
  • Collagen Type III