Joint loads resulting in ACL rupture: Effects of age, sex, and body mass on injury load and mode of failure in a mouse model

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Abstract

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears are a common knee injury with a known but poorly understood association with secondary joint injuries and post-traumatic osteoarthritis (OA). Female sex and age are known risk factors for ACL injury but these variables are rarely explored in mouse models of injury. This study aimed to further characterize a non-surgical ACL injury model to determine its clinical relevance across a wider range of mouse specifications. Cadaveric and anesthetized C57BL/6 mice (9–52 weeks of age) underwent joint loading to investigate the effects of age, sex, and body mass on ACL injury mechanisms. The ACL injury load (whole joint load required to rupture the ACL) was measured from force-displacement data, and mode of failure was assessed using micro-dissection and histology. ACL injury load was found to increase with body mass and age (p < 0.001) but age was not significant when controlling for mass. Sex had no effect. In contrast, the mode of ACL failure varied with both age and sex groups. Avulsion fractures (complete or mixed with mid-substance tears) were common in all age groups but the proportion of mixed and mid-substance failures increased with age. Females were more likely than males to have a major avulsion relative to a mid-substance tear (p < 0.01). This data compliments studies in human cadaveric knees, and provides a basis for determining the severity of joint injury relative to a major ACL tear in mice, and for selecting joint loading conditions in future experiments using this model. © 2016 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res

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