2014 Volume 17 Issue 1 Pages 22-30
We investigated the histopathological and immunohistochemical effects of loading on cartilage repair in rat full-thickness articular cartilage defects. A total of 40 male 9-week-old Wistar rats were studied. Full-thickness articular cartilage defects were created over the capsule at the loading portion in the medial condyle of the femur. Twenty rats were randomly allocated into each of the 2 groups: a loading group and a unloading group. Twenty rats from these 2 groups were later randomly allocated to each of the 2 groups for evaluation at 1 and 2 weeks after surgery. At the end of each period, knee joints were examined histopathologically and immunohistochemically. In both groups at 1 and 2 weeks, the defects were filled with a mixture of granulation tissue and some remnants of hyaline cartilage. The repair tissue was not stained with toluidine blue in both groups. Strong staining of type I collagen was observed in the repair tissue of both groups. The area stained with type I collagen was smaller in the unloading group than in the loading groups, and the stained area was smaller at 2 weeks than at 1 week. In the staining for type II collagen, apparent staining of type II collagen was observed in the repair tissue of both groups at 1 week. At 2 weeks, there was a tendency toward a higher degree of apparent staining in the loading group than in the unloading group. Accordingly, these results indicated that loading and unloading in the early phase of cartilage repair have both merits and demerits.