Background: The microbiomechanical properties of the meniscus influence the cell response to the surrounding biomechanical environment and are beneficial to understand meniscus repairing and healing. To date, however, this information remains ambiguous. This study aims to characterise the microbiomechanical properties of the meniscus after degeneration in a rabbit anterior cruciate ligament transection (ACLT) model and to analyse the corresponding histology at the macroscale and chemical composition. Methods: Twenty New Zealand white rabbits were used. Menisci were collected from the knee joints 4 and 8 weeks after the ACLT and from those of the corresponding control groups. The central portions of both medial and lateral menisci were investigated using atomic force microscopy, histological study, and an energy-dispersive spectrometer. The evaluation was conducted regionally within the inner, middle, and outer sites from the top layer (facing the femoral surface) to the bottom layer (facing the tibial surface) in both the lateral and medial menisci to obtain the site-dependent properties. Results: At 4 weeks after surgery, the dynamic elastic modulus at the microlevel increased significantly at both the top and bottom layers compared with the intact meniscus (P = 0.021). At 8 weeks after surgery, the stiffening occurred in all regions (P = 0.030). The medial meniscus showed greater change than the lateral meniscus. All these microbiomechanical alterations occurred before the histological findings at the macroscale. Conclusion: The microbiomechanical properties in the meniscus changed significantly after ACLT and were site dependent. Their alterations occurred before the histological changes of degeneration were observed. The Translational Potential of this Article: The results of our study indicated that degeneration promoted meniscus stiffening. Thus, they provide a better understanding of the disease process affecting the meniscus. Our results might be beneficial to understand how mechanical forces distribute throughout the healthy and pathologic joint. They indicate the possibility of early diagnosis using a minimally invasive arthroscopic tool, as well as they might guide treatment to the healthy and pathologic meniscus and joint.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine