Subphysiological Compressive Loading Reduces Apoptosis Following Acute Impact Injury in a Porcine Cartilage Model

Lauren Vernon, Andre Abadin, David Wilensky, C. Y.Charles Huang, Lee Kaplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Acute cartilage injuries induce cell death and are associated with an increased incidence of osteoarthritis development later in life. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of posttraumatic cyclic compressive loading on chondrocyte viability and apoptosis in porcine articular cartilage plugs. Hypothesis: Compressive loading of acutely injured cartilage can maintain chondrocyte viability by reducing apoptosis after a traumatic impact injury. Study Design: In vitro controlled laboratory study. Level of Evidence: Level 5. Methods: Each experiment compared 4 test groups: control, impact, impact with compressive loading (either 0.5 or 0.8 MPa), and no impact but compressive loading (n = 15 per group). Flat, full-thickness articular cartilage plugs were harvested from the trochlear region of porcine knees. A drop tower was utilized to introduce an impact injury. The articular plugs were subjected to two 30-minute cycles of either 0.5 or 0.8 MPa of dynamic loading. Cell viability, apoptosis, and gene expression of samples were evaluated 24 hours postimpaction. Results: Cell viability staining showed that 0.5 MPa of dynamic compressive loading increased cell viability compared with the impact group. Apoptotic analysis revealed a decrease in apoptotic expression in the group with 0.5 MPa of dynamic compressive loading compared with the impact group. Significantly higher caspase 3 and lower collagen II expressions were observed in impacted samples without compressive loading, compared with those with. Compressive loading of nonimpacted samples significantly increased collagen II and decreased caspase 3 expressions. Conclusion: In this porcine in vitro model, dynamic compressive loading at subphysiological levels immediately following impact injury decreases apoptotic expression, thereby maintaining chondrocyte viability. Clinical Relevance: Therapeutic exercises could be designed to deliver subphysiological loading to the injured cartilage, thereby minimizing injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-88
Number of pages8
JournalSports Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • cartilage gene expression
  • chondrocyte viability
  • compressive loading
  • impact injury
  • osteoarthritis prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Subphysiological Compressive Loading Reduces Apoptosis Following Acute Impact Injury in a Porcine Cartilage Model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this