Matrix damage and chondrocyte viability following a single impact load on articular cartilage

Arch Biochem Biophys. 1995 Sep 10;322(1):87-96. doi: 10.1006/abbi.1995.1439.


An impact load was applied to full-depth circular samples of articular cartilage in vitro and the effects of impact energy and velocity on matrix integrity and chondrocyte viability were studied. Following a severe impact, calculated to correspond to the energy density over the cartilage surface that might be expected in a man jumping off a 1-m-high wall, the tissue was grossly disrupted. It became elliptical, fissured, and flattened. Cartilage samples remaining attached to the underlying bone showed less damage at similar drop masses and heights. Chondrocyte viability was found to decrease linearly with increasing impact energy. Cartilage biopsies maintained in culture for up to 15 days following impact gained mass over the first 3 days which they did not subsequently lose. The gain in mass increased with the severity of impact and was due to an increased hydration of the tissue. Scanning electron microscopy and light microscopy showed fissures penetrating the tissue but which were never found to pass through the full depth. They were commonly oriented at about 45 degrees to the plane of the surface and gave the appearance of being deflected parallel to the surface on reaching the transition zone. This produced a "delaminating" effect where the surface zone was separating from the deep zone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Biophysics
  • Cartilage, Articular / cytology
  • Cartilage, Articular / injuries*
  • Cartilage, Articular / physiology*
  • Cattle
  • Cell Survival
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Stress, Mechanical