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Quantitative Mapping of Matrix Content and Distribution across the Ligament-to-Bone Insertion

Spalazzi, Jeffrey P.; Boskey, Adele L.; Pleshko, Nancy; Lu, Helen H.

The interface between bone and connective tissues such as the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) constitutes a complex transition traversing multiple tissue regions, including non-calcified and calcified fibrocartilage, which integrates and enables load transfer between otherwise structurally and functionally distinct tissue types. The objective of this study was to investigate region-dependent changes in collagen, proteoglycan and mineral distribution, as well as collagen orientation, across the ligament-to-bone insertion site using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopic imaging (FTIR-I). Insertion site-related differences in matrix content were also evaluated by comparing tibial and femoral entheses. Both region- and site-related changes were observed. Collagen content was higher in the ligament and bone regions, while decreasing across the fibrocartilage interface. Moreover, interfacial collagen fibrils were aligned parallel to the ligament-bone interface near the ligament region, assuming a more random orientation through the bulk of the interface. Proteoglycan content was uniform on average across the insertion, while its distribution was relatively less variable at the tibial compared to the femoral insertion. Mineral was only detected in the calcified interface region, and its content increased exponentially across the mineralized fibrocartilage region toward bone. In addition to new insights into matrix composition and organization across the complex multi-tissue junction, findings from this study provide critical benchmarks for the regeneration of soft tissue-to-bone interfaces and integrative soft tissue repair.

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Academic Units
Biomedical Engineering
Publisher
Public Library of Science
Published Here
November 21, 2016
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