Genipin crosslinking of cartilage enhances resistance to biochemical degradation and mechanical wearMegan E. McGann Craig M. Bonitsky Mariah L. Jackson Timothy C. Ovaert Stephen B. Trippel Diane R. Wagner
Collagen crosslinking enhances many beneficial properties of articular cartilage, including resistance to chemical degradation and mechanical wear, but many crosslinking agents are cytotoxic. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of genipin, a crosslinking agent with favorable biocompatibility and cytotoxicity, as a potential treatment to prevent the degradation and wear of articular cartilage. First, the impact of genipin concentration and treatment duration on the viscoelastic properties of bovine articular cartilage was quantified. Next, two short‐term (15 min) genipin crosslinking treatments were chosen, and the change in collagenase digestion, cartilage wear, and the friction coefficient of the tissue with these treatments was measured. Finally, chondrocyte viability after exposure to these genipin treatments was assessed. Genipin treatment increased the stiffness of healthy, intact cartilage in a dose‐dependent manner. The 15‐min crosslinking treatments improved cartilage’s resistance to both chemical degradation, particularly at the articular surface, and to damage due to mechanical wear. These enhancements were achieved without sacrificing the low coefficient of friction of the tissue and at a genipin dose that preserved chondrocyte viability. The results of this study suggest that collagen crosslinking via genipin may be a promising preventative treatment to slow the degradation of cartilage.