Composition, structure and tensile biomechanical properties of equine articular cartilage during growth and maturation
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CitationOinas, J. Ronkainen, A P. Rieppo, L. Finnilä, M A J. Iivarinen, J T. van Weeren, P R. Helminen, H J. Brama, P A J. Korhonen, R K. Saarakkala, S. (2018). Composition, structure and tensile biomechanical properties of equine articular cartilage during growth and maturation. Scientific reports, 8, 11357. 10.1038/s41598-018-29655-5.
Articular cartilage undergoes structural and biochemical changes during maturation, but the knowledge on how these changes relate to articular cartilage function at different stages of maturation is lacking. Equine articular cartilage samples of four different maturation levels (newborn, 5-month-old, 11-month-old and adult) were collected (N = 25). Biomechanical tensile testing, Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopy (FTIR-MS) and polarized light microscopy were used to study the tensile, biochemical and structural properties of articular cartilage, respectively. The tensile modulus was highest and the breaking energy lowest in the newborn group. The collagen and the proteoglycan contents increased with age. The collagen orientation developed with age into an arcade-like orientation. The collagen content, proteoglycan content, and collagen orientation were important predictors of the tensile modulus (p < 0.05 in multivariable regression) and correlated significantly also with the breaking energy (p < 0.05 in multivariable regression). Partial least squares regression analysis of FTIR-MS data provided accurate predictions for the tensile modulus (r = 0.79) and the breaking energy (r = 0.65). To conclude, the composition and structure of equine articular cartilage undergoes changes with depth that alter functional properties during maturation, with the typical properties of mature tissue reached at the age of 5–11 months.