Collagen morphology in human meniscal attachments: A SEM study


Qualitative analysis of meniscal attachments from five human knees was completed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). In addition, quantitative analysis to determine the collagen crimping angle and length in each attachment was done. Morphological differences were revealed between the distinct zones of the attachments from the meniscus transition to the bony insertion. Collagen fibers near to the meniscus appeared inhomogeneous in a radial cross-section view. The sheath surrounding the fibers seemed loose compared with the membrane wrapping around the fibers in the menisci. The midsubstance of human meniscal attachments was composed of collagen fibers running parallel to the longitudinal axis, with a few fibers running obliquely, and others transversely. The bony insertion showed that the crimping pattern vanishes as the collagen fibers approach the fibrocartilagenous enthesis. There were no differences between attachments for crimping angle or length. Collagen crimping angles for all attachments were similar with values of approximately 22°. Crimp length values tended to be smaller for the medial attachments (MA: 4.76 ± 1.95 μm; MP: 3.72 ± 2.31 μm) and higher for the lateral (LA: 6.49 ± 2.34 μm, LP: 6.91 ± 2.29 μm). SEM was demonstrated to be an effective method for revealing the morphology of fibrous connective tissue. The data of collagen fiber length and angle found in this study will allow for better development of microstructural models of meniscal attachments. This study will help to better understand the relation between the morphology and the architecture of collagen and the mechanical behavior of meniscal attachments. © 2010 Informa UK Ltd.

Publication Title

Connective Tissue Research