Is the mechanical function of meniscal tissue altered in osteoarthritic knees?

Mahmood, Fahd and Clarke, Jon and Riches, Phil (2023) Is the mechanical function of meniscal tissue altered in osteoarthritic knees? The Knee, 44. pp. 194-200. ISSN 0968-0160 (

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Background Deteriorating meniscal function is thought to play a role in knee osteoarthritis. Meniscal proteoglycans maintain mechanical stiffness of the tissue through electrostatic effects. This study aimed to investigate whether the mechanical properties of macroscopically intact meniscus are preserved in osteoarthritis. Methods Discs of lateral meniscal tissue two millimetres thick and of five millimetres diameter from osteoarthritic knees and from healthy donors were placed within a confined compression chamber, mounted in a materials testing machine and bathed in isotonic 0.14M PBS, hypotonic deionised water or hypertonic 3M PBS. Following equilibrium, a 10% ramp compressive strain was applied followed by a 7200 second hold. Resultant stress relaxation curves were fitted to a nonlinear poroviscoelastic model with strain dependent permeability using finite element modelling to determine mechanical parameters. All samples were assayed for proteoglycan content. Comparison of results was undertaken using multivariate ANOVA. Results Thirty samples from osteoarthritic knees and 18 samples from healthy donors were tested. No significant differences in mechanical parameters or proteoglycan content was observed between groups. In both groups Young’s modulus (E) was significantly greater, and zero-strain permeability significantly reduced, in samples tested in deionised water compared to samples tested in 0.14M or 3M PBS (all p Conclusion Mechanical parameters of intact lateral meniscus in osteoarthritic knees are similar to those found in healthy knees. Proteoglycan concentration and their electrostatic contribution to mechanical stiffness of the meniscus is maintained in menisci derived from osteoarthritic knees. Whilst macroscopic tears in the meniscal ultrastructure may contribute to osteoarthritis, intact meniscal tissue maintains its function.