A Review of the Collagen Orientation in the Articular Cartilage

Roy D. Bloebaum, Andrew S. Wilson, William N. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: There has been a debate as to the alignment of the collagen fibers. Using a hand lens, Sir William Hunter demonstrated that the collagen fibers ran perpendicular and later aspects were supported by Benninghoff. Despite these 2 historical studies, modern technology has conflicting data on the collagen alignment. Design: Ten mature New Zealand rabbits were used to obtain 40 condyle specimens. The specimens were passed through ascending grades of alcohol, subjected to critical point drying (CPD), and viewed in the scanning electron microscope. Specimens revealed splits from the dehydration process. When observing the fibers exposed within the opening of the splits, parallel fibers were observed to run in a radial direction, normal to the surface of the articular cartilage, radiating from the deep zone and arcading as they approach the surface layer. After these observations, the same samples were mechanically fractured and damaged by scalpel. Results: The splits in the articular surface created deep fissures, exposing parallel bundles of collagen fibers, radiating from the deep zone and arcading as they approach the surface layer. On higher magnification, individual fibers were observed to run parallel to one another, traversing radially toward the surface of the articular cartilage and arcading. Mechanical fracturing and scalpel damage induced on the same specimens with the splits showed randomly oriented fibers. Conclusion: Collagen fiber orientation corroborates aspects of Hunter’s findings and compliments Benninghoff. Investigators must be aware of the limits of their processing and imaging techniques in order to interpret collagen fiber orientation in cartilage.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCartilage
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Feb 2021

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