Volume 30 (2018) Issue 1 Pages 140-144
[Purpose] To investigate the influence of knee immobilization period on recovery of histological damages in the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) insertion and articular cartilage in rabbits. This knowledge is important for determining the appropriate rehabilitation approach for patients with ligament injuries, fracture, disuse atrophy, and degenerative joint disease. [Materials and Methods] Forty-eight male Japanese white rabbits were divided equally into the remobilization and control groups. The remobilization group had the right knee surgically immobilized, and was divided equally into four subgroups according to the duration of immobilization (1, 2, 4 and 8 weeks). After the immobilization was removed, the rabbits moved freely for 8 weeks. The control group underwent sham operation and followed the same time course as the remobilization group. The chondrocyte apoptosis rate and chondrocyte proliferation rate in the ACL insertion and articular cartilage were analyzed after remobilization. [Results] In the ACL insertion, the remobilization group had a higher chondrocyte apoptosis rate than the control group after 8 weeks of immobilization, and a lower chondrocyte proliferation rate than the control group after 4 and 8 weeks of immobilization. In the articular cartilage, the remobilization group had a lower chondrocyte proliferation rate than the control group after 8 weeks of immobilization. After 8 weeks of remobilization, the ACL insertion and articular cartilage are not completely recovered after 4 and 8 weeks of immobilization, respectively. [Conclusion] Our results suggest that 8 weeks of remobilization will result in recovery of the ACL insertion after 2 weeks of knee immobilization, and recovery of the articular cartilage after 4 weeks of knee immobilization. If 8 weeks of immobilization occurs, a remobilization duration of more than 8 weeks may be necessary.