Objective: To evaluate the biomechanical, histological and immunohistochemical changes induced in patellar articular cartilage (AC) in ovine stifle joints 3 months after bilateral lateral meniscectomy, a procedure known to induce experimental osteoarthritis (OA) in the femoro- tibial joint (FTJ). Methodology: Fifteen mature adult Merino female sheep were used in this study. Ten were subjected to bilateral-lateral meniscectomy, while the remaining five were used as 'non-operated controls, (NOC). All animals were killed 3 months post-surgery. Topographical biomechanical indentation tests were performed on each patellae using a UMIS-2000 micro-indentation system. Initial load, relaxed and unload shear moduli were determined using an elastic analytical model, while the permeability was assessed by comparing the indentation response to a simulated indentation test conducted using a poroelastic finite element model. Immunohistochemical, normal and polarized histological studies were performed on each specimen after biomechanical testing. Results: Patellar AC from meniscectomized joints exhibited an overall decrease in initial (- 34%), relaxed (- 32%) and unload shear modulus (- 22%), and an increase in the permeability (+72%) relative to NOC cartilage (P<0.01). The most significant differences in mechanical properties occurred on the lateral and central aspects of the patellae. There were no significant histologicaI difference in staining between sections from NOC and meniscectomized joint AC using Toluidine Blue, a dye which binds to proteoglycans. However immunohistochemical staining with monoclonal antibody MAb 3B3(-), a putative marker of early OA change in PGs, demonstrated increased binding in the lateral and central regions of patellar sections from meniscectomized joints relative to the same regions of NOC AC. Moreover polarized light microscopy of Picro Sirius red stained sections revealed a significant decrease in birefringence intensity in the superficial-middle zones of the lateral and central regions of the patellar cartilage derived from the meniscectomized joints. Conclusion: This study has demonstrated that lateral meniscectomy is a procedure which was known to induce classical OA like changes in AC and subchondral bone of the FTJ also produced an early pathological response in the patellar AC.
- Animal model
- Patellar cartilage