Chondrocyte Apoptosis and Decrease of Glycosaminoglycan in Cranial Cruciate Ligament Insertion after Resection in Rabbits
We examined time-dependent histological changes of the calcified fibrocartilage area in a tibial cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) insertion after ligament resection in rabbits. The animals were divided into two groups: those undergoing CCL substance resection in the right stifle (resected group) and those receiving the same operation without CCL resection in the left stifle (sham operated group). Five animals were euthanized with deep anaesthesia at four time periods (1, 2, 4 and 6 weeks), and Haematoxylin-eosin and Safranin-O stainings and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate-biotin nick end labeling (TUNEL) staining were performed. The average percentage of TUNEL-positive chondrocytes and the average thickness of the glycosaminoglycan (GAG)-stained area in the calcified fibrocartilage area were measured. Two and 4 weeks after the surgery, the average percentages of TUNEL-positive chondrocytes in the resected group (23.8 ± 10.3% and 15.9 ± 6.7%, respectively) were significantly higher than those in the sham operated group (8.9 ± 3.8% and 7.4 ± 1.6%, P<0.05, respectively). Six weeks after the surgery, the average thickness of the GAG-stained area in the resected group (7.7 ± 13. 5μm) was significantly smaller than that in the sham operated group (69.4 ± 39.9 μm, P<0.05). Our results suggest that the average percentage of TUNEL-positive chondrocytes became a peak in 2 weeks and that histological changes occurred in 6 weeks. The chondrocyte apoptosis can induce decrease of GAG-stained area after resection of CCL. Therefore, chondrocyte apoptosis in the calcified cartilage area in the CCL tibial insertion might lead to histological changes.