Extracellular matrix content of ruptured anterior cruciate ligament tissue Academic Article uri icon


  • Anterior cruciate ligaments (ACLs) can rupture with simple movements, suggesting that structural changes in the ligament may reduce the loading capacity of the ligament. We aimed to investigate if proteoglycan and collagen levels were different between ruptured and non-ruptured ACLs. We also compared changes in ruptured tissue over time. During arthroscopic knee reconstruction surgery 24 ruptured ACLs were collected from participants (10 females; 14 males; mean age 24 years). Four non-ruptured ACLs were obtained from participants undergoing total knee replacement surgery (one female, three males; mean age 66 years). Western blot analysis was used to characterise core proteins of aggrecan, versican, decorin and biglycan and glycosaminoglycan assays were also conducted. Collagen levels were measured by hydroxyproline (OHPr) assays. Significantly lower levels of collagen, were found in ruptured ACL compared to non-ruptured ACL (p=0.004). Lower levels of both small and large proteoglycans were found in ruptured than non-ruptured ACLs. No correlation was found between time since rupture and proteoglycan or collagen levels. Ruptured ACLs had less collagen and proteoglycans than non-ruptured ACLs. These changes indicate either extracellular matrix protein levels were reduced prior to rupture or levels decreased immediately after rupture. It is possible that the composition and structure of ACLs that rupture are different to normal ACLs, potentially reducing the tissue's ability to withstand loading. An enhanced understanding of the aetiology of ACL injury could help identify individuals who may be predisposed to rupture.

publication date

  • August 2011

published in