Biomechanical, histological, and molecular characterization of a new posttraumatic model of arthrofibrosis in rats

Aaron R. Owen, Louis Dagneaux, Afton K. Limberg, Jacob W. Bettencourt, Banu Bayram, Brad Bolon, Daniel J. Berry, Mark E. Morrey, Joaquin Sanchez-Sotelo, Andre J. van Wijnen, Matthew P. Abdel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Experimental analyses of posttraumatic knee arthrofibrosis utilize a rabbit model as a gold standard. However, a rodent model of arthrofibrosis offers many advantages including reduced cost and comparison with other models of organ fibrosis. This study aimed to characterize the biomechanical, histological, and molecular features of a novel posttraumatic model of arthrofibrosis in rats. Forty eight rats were divided into two equal groups. An immobilization procedure was performed on the right hind limbs of experimental rats. One group was immobilized for 4 weeks and the other for 8 weeks. Both groups were remobilized for 4 weeks. Limbs were studied biomechanically via assessment of torque versus degree of extension, histologically via whole knee specimen, and molecularly via gene expression of posterior capsular tissues. Significant differences were observed between experimental and control limbs at 4 N-cm of torque in the 4-week (knee extension: 115° ± 8° vs. 169° ± 17°, respectively; p = 0.007) and 8-week immobilization groups (knee extension: 99° ± 12° vs. 174° ± 9°, respectively; p = 0.008). Histologically, in each group experimental limbs demonstrated increased posterior capsular thickness and total area of tissue when compared to control limbs (p < 0.05). Gene expression values evaluated in each group were comparable. This study presents a novel rat model of arthrofibrosis with severe and persistent knee contractures demonstrated biomechanically and histologically. Statement of clinical significance: Arthrofibrosis is a common complication following contemporary total knee arthroplasties. The proposed model is reproducible, cost-effective, and can be employed for translational investigations studying the pathogenesis of arthrofibrosis and efficacy of neoadjuvant pharmacologic agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-337
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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