Nonuniform distribution of collagen density in human knee ligaments

J Orthop Res. 1994 Mar;12(2):238-45. doi: 10.1002/jor.1100120213.


It is generally recognized that the mechanical properties of soft connective tissues are affected by their structural components. We documented collagen density distributions in human knee ligaments to quantify differences in density within and between these ligaments. In order to explain the variations in mechanical properties within and between different knee ligaments as described in the literature, the distributions of collagen density were correlated with these biomechanical findings. Human knee ligaments were shown to be nonhomogeneous structures with regard to collagen density. The anterior bundles of all ligaments contained significantly more collagen mass per unit of volume than the posterior bundles did. The percentage differences between the anterior and posterior bundles, in relation to the posterior bundles, were about 25% for the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the collateral ligaments and about 10% for the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). Along the cruciate ligaments, the central segments had higher collagen densities than did segments adjacent to the ligament insertions (ACL 9%, PCL 24%). The collagen density in the ACL was significantly lower than that in the other ligaments. These variations within and between the ligaments correlate well with the variations in mechanical properties described in the literature; however, other structural differences have to be taken into account to fully explain the variations in mechanical properties from the structural components.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / chemistry
  • Collagen / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxyproline / analysis
  • Knee Joint / chemistry*
  • Ligaments, Articular / chemistry*
  • Middle Aged
  • Posterior Cruciate Ligament / chemistry


  • Collagen
  • Hydroxyproline