An interspecies comparison of the temporomandibular joint disc

J Dent Res. 2011 Feb;90(2):193-8. doi: 10.1177/0022034510381501. Epub 2010 Nov 29.


The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disc plays a critical role in normal function of the joint, and many disorders of the TMJ are a result of disc dysfunction. Previous quantitative TMJ characterization studies examined either the human or a specific animal model, but no single study has compared different species, in the belief that differences in joint morphology, function, and diet would be reflected in the material properties of the disc. In this study, we examined topographical biochemical (collagen, glycosaminoglycan, and DNA content) and biomechanical (tensile and compressive) properties of the human TMJ disc, and also discs from the cow, goat, pig, and rabbit. Regional and interspecies variations were identified in all parameters measured, and certain disc characteristics were observed across all species, such as a weak intermediate zone under mediolateral tension. While human discs possessed properties distinct from those of the other species, pig discs were most similar to the human, suggesting that the pig may be a suitable animal model for TMJ bioengineering efforts.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Cadaver
  • Cattle
  • Collagen / analysis
  • Compressive Strength
  • DNA / analysis
  • Dental Stress Analysis
  • Elastic Modulus
  • Female
  • Glycosaminoglycans / analysis
  • Goats
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Animal
  • Rabbits
  • Swine
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disc / anatomy & histology*
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disc / chemistry
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disc / physiology*
  • Tensile Strength


  • Glycosaminoglycans
  • Collagen
  • DNA