Variations in internal structure, composition and protein distribution between intra- and extra-articular knee ligaments and tendons

Kharaz, Yalda A, Canty-Laird, Elizabeth G ORCID: 0000-0001-5041-1316, Tew, Simon R ORCID: 0000-0002-1213-5418 and Comerford, Eithne J ORCID: 0000-0002-5244-6042
(2018) Variations in internal structure, composition and protein distribution between intra- and extra-articular knee ligaments and tendons. JOURNAL OF ANATOMY, 232 (6). pp. 943-955.

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Tendons and ligaments play key roles in the musculoskeletal system in both man and animals. Both tissues can undergo traumatic injury, age-related degeneration and chronic disease, causing discomfort, pain and increased susceptibility to wider degenerative joint disease. To date, tendon and ligament ultrastructural biology is relatively under-studied in healthy, non-diseased tissues. This information is essential to understand the pathology of these tissues with regard to function-related injury and to assist with the future development of tissue-engineered tendon and ligament structures. This study investigated the morphological, compositional and extracellular matrix protein distribution differences between tendons and ligaments around the non-diseased canine stifle joint. The morphological, structural characteristics of different regions of the periarticular tendons and ligaments (the intra-articular anterior cruciate ligament, the extra-articular medial collateral ligament, the positional long digital extensor tendon and energy-storing superficial digital flexor tendons) were identified using a novel semi-objective histological scoring analysis and by determining their biochemical composition. Protein distribution of extracellular matrix collagens, proteoglycans and elastic fibre proteins in anterior cruciate ligament and long digital extensor tendon were also determined using immunostaining techniques. The anterior cruciate ligament was found to have significant morphological differences in comparison with the other three tissues, including less compact collagen architecture, differences in cell nuclei phenotype and increased glycosaminoglycan and elastin content. Intra- and interobserver differences of histology scoring resulted in an average score 0.7, indicative of good agreement between observers. Statistically significant differences were also found in the extracellular matrix composition in terms of glycosaminoglycan and elastin content, being more prominent in the anterior cruciate ligament than in the other three tissues. A different distribution of several extracellular matrix proteins was also found between long digital extensor tendon and anterior cruciate ligament, with a significantly increased immunostaining of aggrecan and versican in the anterior cruciate ligament. These findings directly relate to the different functions of tendon and ligament and indicate that the intra-articular anterior cruciate ligament is subjected to more compressive forces, reflecting an adaptive response to normal or increased loads and resulting in different extracellular matrix composition and arrangement to protect the tissue from damage.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Alcian blue-periodic acid Schiff, anterior cruciate ligament, extracellular matrix, fascicular matrix, interfascicular matrix, long digital extensor tendon, medial collateral ligament, superficial digital flexor tendon
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2018 07:36
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 06:38
DOI: 10.1111/joa.12802
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