Depth-dependent profiles of glycosaminoglycans in articular cartilage by microMRI and histochemistry

J Magn Reson Imaging. 2008 Jul;28(1):151-7. doi: 10.1002/jmri.21392.


Purpose: To quantify the distribution profile of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) in articular cartilage with the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) gadolinium (Gd) contrast method (the dGEMRIC procedure in clinical MRI) and correlate with histochemical results.

Materials and methods: Fresh canine cartilage from seven humeral heads was harvested. Sixteen cartilage specimens were imaged at 13 microm pixel resolution using the microMRI T1-Gd method to generate 2D GAG maps in cartilage. Nineteen cartilage specimens from adjacent locations on the same joints were papain-digested to quantify the bulk GAG content in tissue. In addition, six cartilage specimens were microtomed into 40-microm serial sections that were parallel with the articular surface. These sections were biochemically analyzed individually to determine the depth-dependent profiles of GAG concentration.

Results: The GAG concentrations between the microMRI measurement and the bulk biochemical method have statistically significant agreement. The depth-dependent GAG profiles from the histochemical method (40 microm depth resolution) have similar line shapes as that determined by microMRI at 13 microm resolution.

Conclusion: The GAG concentration as measured by microMRI T1-Gd contrast method provides an accurate account of the macromolecular content in articular cartilage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cartilage, Articular / chemistry*
  • Dogs
  • Gadolinium
  • Glycosaminoglycans / analysis*
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*


  • Glycosaminoglycans
  • Gadolinium