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Hyperosmolarity protects chondrocytes from mechanical injury in human articular cartilage


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The aim of this study was to determine whether exposure of human articular cartilage to hyperosmotic saline (0.9%, 600 mOsm) reduces in situ chondrocyte death following a standardised mechanical injury produced by a scalpel cut compared with the same assault and exposure to normal saline (0.9%, 285 mOsm). Human cartilage explants were exposed to normal (control) and hyperosmotic 0.9% saline solutions for five minutes before the mechanical injury to allow in situ chondrocytes to respond to the altered osmotic environment, and incubated for a further 2.5 hours in the same solutions following the mechanical injury.

Using confocal laser scanning microscopy, we identified a sixfold (p = 0.04) decrease in chondrocyte death following mechanical injury in the superficial zone of human articular cartilage exposed to hyperosmotic saline compared with normal saline.

These data suggest that increasing the osmolarity of joint irrigation solutions used during open and arthroscopic articular surgery may reduce chondrocyte death from surgical injury and could promote integrative cartilage repair.

Correspondence should be sent to Mr A. K. Amin; e-mail: anish.k.amin@googlemail.com

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