Proteoglycans play a role in the viscoelastic behaviour of the canine cranial cruciate ligament

Rosti Readioff, Brendan Geraghty, Yalda A Kharaz, Ahmed Elsheikh, Eithne Comerford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Proteoglycans (PGs) are minor extracellular matrix proteins, and their contributions to the mechanobiology of complex ligaments such as the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) have not been determined to date. The CCLs are highly susceptible to injuries, and their extracellular matrix comprises higher PGs content than the other major knee ligaments. Hence these characteristics make CCLs an ideal specimen to use as a model in this study. This study addressed the hypothesis that PGs play a vital role in CCL mechanobiology by determining the biomechanical behaviour at low strain rates before and after altering PGs content. For the first time, this study qualitatively investigated the contribution of PGs to key viscoelastic characteristics, including strain rate dependency, hysteresis, creep and stress relaxation, in canine CCLs.
Femur-CCL-tibia specimens (n=6 pairs) were harvested from canine knee joints and categorised into a control group, where PGs were not depleted, and a treated group, where PGs were depleted. Specimens were preconditioned and cyclically loaded to 9.9 N at 0.1, 1 and 10%/min strain rates, followed by creep and stress relaxation tests. Low tensile loads were applied to focus on the toe-region of the stress-strain curves where the non-collagenous extracellular matrix components take significant effect. Biochemical assays were performed on the CCLs to determine PGs and water content.
The PG content was ~19% less in the treated group than in the control group. The qualitative study showed that the stress-strain curves in the treated group were strain rate dependent, similar to the control group. The CCLs in the treated group showed stiffer characteristics than the control group. Hysteresis, creep characteristics (creep strain, creep rate and creep compliance), and stress relaxation values were reduced in the treated group compared to the control group.
This study suggests that altering PGs content changes the microstructural organisation of the CCLs, including water molecule contents which can lead to changes in CCL viscoelasticity. The change in mechanical properties of the CCLs may predispose to injury and lead to knee joint osteoarthritis. Future studies should focus on quantitatively identifying the effect of PG on the mechanics of intact knee ligaments across broader demography.
Original languageEnglish
Article number984224
JournalFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
Volume10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2022

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