The effects of the synovium on chondrocyte growth: an experimental study

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2011 Jul;19(7):1214-23. doi: 10.1007/s00167-010-1391-y. Epub 2011 Feb 3.


Purpose: The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of synovium on the proliferation of the cartilage tissue and chondrocytes using a rabbit knee model as an in vivo synovial culture medium.

Methods: Twelve New Zealand rabbits were used as the animal model in this investigation. Standard size chondral and osteochondral cartilage grafts were taken from, respectively, the left and right knees of all the animals. Two groups of 6 animals were formed: in Group I (synovium group), grafts were placed into the synovial tissue and in group II (patellar tendon group) behind the patellar tendon of the corresponding knees. After 4 months, samples were collected and evaluated macroscopically by measuring their dimensions (vertical = D1, horizontal = D2, and depth = D3) and volumes, and histologically by counting the chondrocyte number using camera lucida method.

Results: Macroscopically, the increase in average D1, D2, and D3 measurements and volume in the osteochondral specimens were significantly higher compared to the chondral specimens in both groups (P < 0.05). However, no significant difference was observed between the two groups in terms of macroscopic values. Histologically, the mean chondrocyte counts in osteochondral and chondral specimens for Group I (synovium) were 20.2 and 18.1, and for Group II (patellar tendon) were 18.7 and 15.6, respectively. The mean number of chondrocytes was found to be significantly higher in osteochondral specimens than that of chondral specimens in either group (P < 0.05). Overall average chondrocyte count was significantly higher for Group I compared to Group II (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: Transplantation of the cartilage grafts into the synovial tissue in rabbit knees significantly enhanced the chondrocyte production compared with the group where the grafts were transplanted into intra-articular patellar tendon. The results of this study indicate that native synovial tissue may have the potential to be used as an in vivo culture medium for osteochondral tissue growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Transplantation / methods
  • Cartilage / cytology
  • Cartilage / growth & development*
  • Cartilage / transplantation
  • Cartilage, Articular
  • Chondrocytes / physiology*
  • Culture Media
  • Knee Joint / surgery*
  • Models, Animal
  • Patellar Ligament*
  • Rabbits
  • Random Allocation
  • Reconstructive Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Synovial Membrane / physiology*


  • Culture Media