Bovine meniscal tissue exhibits age‐ and interleukin‐1 dose‐dependent degradation patterns and composition‐function relationshipsCarrie H‐Y Ling Janice H. Lai Ivan J. Wong Marc E. Levenston
Despite increasing evidence that meniscal degeneration is an early event in the development of knee osteoarthritis, relatively little is known regarding the sequence or functional implications of cytokine–induced meniscal degradation or how degradation varies with age. This study examined dose‐dependent patterns of interleukin‐1 (IL‐1)‐induced matrix degradation in explants from the radially middle regions of juvenile and adult bovine menisci. Tissue explants were cultured for 10 days in the presence of 0, 1.25, 5, or 20 ng/ml recombinant human IL‐1α. Juvenile explants exhibited immediate and extensive sulfated glycosaminoglycan (sGAG) loss and subsequent collagen release beginning after 4–6 days, with relatively little IL‐1 dose‐dependence. Adult explants exhibited a more graded response to IL‐1, with dose‐dependent sGAG release and a lower fraction of sGAG released (but greater absolute release) than juvenile explants. In contrast to juvenile explants, adult explants exhibited minimal collagen release over the 10‐day culture. Compressive and shear moduli reflected the changes in explant composition, with substantial decreases for both ages but a greater relative decrease in juvenile tissue. Dynamic moduli exhibited stronger dependence on explant sGAG content for juvenile tissue, likely reflecting concomitant changes to both proteoglycan and collagen tissue components. The patterns of tissue degradation suggest that, like in articular cartilage, meniscal proteoglycans may partially protect collagen from cell‐mediated degeneration. A more detailed view of functional changes in meniscal tissue mechanics with degeneration will help to establish the relevance of in vitro culture models and will advance understanding of how meniscal degeneration contributes to overall joint changes in early stage osteoarthritis.