Morphological and ultrastructural analysis of normal, injured and osteoarthritic human knee menisci

  • Michela Battistelli | michela.battistelli@uniurb.it University of Urbino “Carlo Bo”, Department of Biomolecular Sciences, Italy. http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4028-0652
  • Marta Favero University Hospital of Padua, Department of Medicine, Rheumatology Unit, Italy.
  • Debora Burini University of Urbino “Carlo Bo”, Department of Biomolecular Sciences, Italy.
  • Giovanni Trisolino IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, Pediatric Orthopedic and Traumatology, Italy.
  • Dante Dallari IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, Reconstructive Orthopedic Surgery Innovative Techniques - Musculoskeletal Tissue Bank; Revision surgery of hip prosthesis and development of new implants, Italy.
  • Lucia De Franceschi IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, Reconstructive Orthopedic Surgery Innovative Techniques - Musculoskeletal Tissue Bank; Revision surgery of hip prosthesis and development of new implants, Italy.
  • Steven R. Goldring New York Hospital for Special Surgery, United States.
  • Mary B. Goldring New York Hospital for Special Surgery, United States.
  • Elisa Belluzzi University of Padua, Musculoskeletal pathology and Oncology Laboratory, Italy.
  • Giuseppe Filardo IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, ATRC-Laboratory, Italy.
  • Brunella Grigolo IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, RIT Department, RAMSES Laboratory, Italy.
  • Elisabetta Falcieri University of Urbino “Carlo Bo”, Department of Biomolecular Sciences, Italy.
  • Eleonora Olivotto IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, RIT Department, RAMSES Laboratory, Italy.

Abstract

The human meniscus plays a crucial role for transmission and distribution of load across the knee, as well as shock absorption, joint stability, lubrication, and congruity. The aim of this study was to compare the complex geometry, and unique ultrastructure and tissue composition of the meniscus in healthy (control) and pathological conditions to provide understanding of structural changes that could be helpful in the future design of targetted therapies and improvement of treatment indications. We analyzed meniscus samples collected from 3 healthy multi-organ donors (median age, 66 years), 5 patients with traumatic meniscal tear (median age, 41 years) and 3 patients undergoing total knee replacement (TKR) for end-stage osteoarthritis (OA) (median age, 72 years). We evaluated the extracellular matrix (ECM) organization, the appearance and distribution of areas of calcification, and modifications of cellular organization and structure by electron microscopy and histology. The ECM structure was similar in specimens from traumatic meniscus tears compared to those from patients with late-stage OA, showing disorganization of collagen fibers and increased proteoglycan content. Cells of healthy menisci showed mainly diffuse chromatin and well preserved organelles. Both in traumatic and in OA menisci, we observed increased chromatin condensation, organelle degeneration, and cytoplasmic vacuolization, a portion of which contained markers of autophagic vacuoles. Areas of calcification were also observed in both traumatic and OA menisci, as well as apoptotic-like features that were particularly prominent in traumatic meniscal tear samples. We conclude that meniscal tissue from patients with traumatic meniscal injury demonstrate pathological alterations characteristic of tissue from older patients undergoing TKR, suggesting that they have high susceptibility to develop OA.

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Published
2019-02-11
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Section
Original Papers
Supporting Agencies
Ministero della Salute – GR-2010-2317593, CARISBO Foundation (Bologna, Italy), University of Urbino “Carlo Bo”
Keywords:
Meniscus, meniscal tear, osteoarthritis, transmission electron microscopy, extracellular matrix degeneration
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How to Cite
Battistelli, M., Favero, M., Burini, D., Trisolino, G., Dallari, D., De Franceschi, L., Goldring, S. R., Goldring, M. B., Belluzzi, E., Filardo, G., Grigolo, B., Falcieri, E., & Olivotto, E. (2019). Morphological and ultrastructural analysis of normal, injured and osteoarthritic human knee menisci. European Journal of Histochemistry, 63(1). https://doi.org/10.4081/ejh.2019.2998