Nevin Manimala Statistics

Anterior cruciate ligament microfatigue damage detected by collagen autofluorescence in situ

J Exp Orthop. 2022 Jul 30;9(1):74. doi: 10.1186/s40634-022-00507-6.


PURPOSE: Certain types of repetitive sub-maximal knee loading cause microfatigue damage in the human anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) that can accumulate to produce macroscopic tissue failure. However, monitoring the progression of that ACL microfatigue damage as a function of loading cycles has not been reported. To explore the fatigue process, a confocal laser endomicroscope (CLEM) was employed to capture sub-micron resolution fluorescence images of the tissue in situ. The goal of this study was to quantify the in situ changes in ACL autofluorescence (AF) signal intensity and collagen microstructure as a function of the number of loading cycles.

METHODS: Three paired and four single cadaveric knees were subjected to a repeated 4 times bodyweight landing maneuver known to strain the ACL. The paired knees were used to compare the development of ACL microfatigue damage on the loaded knee after 100 consecutive loading cycles, relative to the contralateral unloaded control knee, through second harmonic generation (SHG) and AF imaging using confocal microscopy (CM). The four single knees were used for monitoring progressive ACL microfatigue damage development by AF imaging using CLEM.

RESULTS: The loaded knees from each pair exhibited a statistically significant increase in AF signal intensity and decrease in SHG signal intensity as compared to the contralateral control knees. Additionally, the anisotropy of the collagen fibers in the loaded knees increased as indicated by the reduced coherency coefficient. Two out of the four single knee ACLs failed during fatigue loading, and they exhibited an order of magnitude higher increase in autofluorescence intensity per loading cycle as compared to the intact knees. Of the three regions of the ACL – proximal, midsubstance and distal – the proximal region of ACL fibers exhibited the highest AF intensity change and anisotropy of fibers.

CONCLUSIONS: CLEM can capture changes in ACL AF and collagen microstructures in situ during and after microfatigue damage development. Results suggest a large increase in AF may occur in the final few cycles immediately prior to or at failure, representing a greater plastic deformation of the tissue. This reinforces the argument that existing microfatigue damage can accumulate to induce bulk mechanical failure in ACL injuries. The variation in fiber organization changes in the ACL regions with application of load is consistent with the known differences in loading distribution at the ACL femoral enthesis.

PMID:35907038 | DOI:10.1186/s40634-022-00507-6

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