Meniscal allograft processing procedures, in particular gamma irradiation, deteriorate the biomechanical and biological properties of the transplanted tissue. High hydrostatic pressure (HHP) treatment, widely used in food technology to inactivate microorganisms while preserving natural compounds, might serve as a gentle alternative to gamma irradiation in the processing of meniscal allografts. We therefore investigated the effects of HHP treatment on the biomechanical and immunohistochemical properties of meniscal cartilage. Specimens of bovine menisci were treated with HHP for 10 min (20 degrees C) at 300 MPa and 600 MPa. Untreated control samples were left at room temperature and ambient pressure. We performed repetitive cycling indentation-tests to assess the biomechanical properties-in particular the viscoelastic behavior-of HHP treated and untreated meniscal specimens. Immunohistochemical analysis for collagens type I, II, and III and for the proteoglycans versican, aggrecan and for link-protein was performed by immunolabeling cross-sections of untreated and at 600 MPa HHP treated specimens. Comparing untreated and HHP treated meniscal specimens there were no significant differences for all tested biomechanical parameters. All cross-sections of untreated and HHP treated specimens stained positive for the collagens and proteoglycans. We demonstrated that meniscal cartilage can be treated by HHP at levels as high as 600 MPa without affection of the biomechanical and immunochistochemical properties. Therefore, HHP treatment might serve as a gentle alternative to gamma irradiation in the processing of meniscal allografts. Further research is necessary to verificate the present results in vivo.
(c) 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.