Effects of exposure to ambient air (20 to 22 C) on articular cartilage from rabbits were evaluated. Bilateral arthrotomies were performed on the stifles of 18 New Zealand White rabbits. The cranial surface of the left distal femur, including the articular cartilage of the trochlea, was exposed to air for 2 hours. The right stifle was opened and closed immediately. Six rabbits were killed at the end of the surgical operation (group 1), 6 after 2 weeks (group 2), and 6 after 4 weeks (group 3), and femurs were harvested. A distinct color change was seen in the exposed cartilage in group 1; however, minimal change was detected in group 2, and no change was seen in group 3. Proteoglycan content did not differ between the exposed and control cartilage in any group. The number of viable cells and empty lacunae in articular cartilage did not differ between the exposed and control femurs. Total cell counts and degenerative cell counts were similar, comparing the left and right trochlea in groups 1 and 3. A significant increase in cellularity was noticed in the radial zone of the exposed cartilage in group 2 (P less than 0.01). In the same group, a significantly increased number of degenerative cells were seen in the tangential zone of the exposed cartilage (P less than 0.05). Changes in cellularity were consistent with cartilage damage. Seemingly, exposing articular cartilage to air for 2 hours causes reversible cartilage damage.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/joseph_weigel/16/