The lubricating ability of human synoviocyte lubricin and bovine lubricin purified from synovial fluid was investigated and compared using a canine in vitro tendon model. Our null hypothesis was that these two forms of lubricin would have equal lubricating ability. Forty two canine hind-limbs were used. The peroneus longus (PL) tendons were harvested, along with the proximal phalanx and flexor digitorum profundus of the second or fifth digit with its proximal fibro-osseous pulley. Forty PL tendons were randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups. After gliding resistance testing, two intact PL tendons and two tendons in each group were randomly selected for surface observation with scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The variance of the PL saline group mean gliding resistance was significantly different from other groups. There was a significant treatment-cycle interaction effect on the mean gliding resistance. On SEM, the surface of the saline treated PL tendons appeared rough, whereas the other tendon surfaces appeared smooth. Human synoviocyte lubricin functioned as well as bovine synovial fluid lubricin to reduce friction of canine PL tendons in vitro. This data suggest that treatment using the two forms of lubricin are mechanically similar.
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