We evaluated the effect of low intensity-pulsed ultrasound stimulation on rat chondrocytes in vitro using two different 1.0-MHz ultrasound signals with spatial and temporal average intensities of 50 or 120 mW/cm2. The pulses had a duration of 200 microseconds and were repeated every millisecond, with corresponding average peak-pressure amplitudes of 230 or 360 kPa, respectively. Cells were stimulated one, three, or five times for 10 minutes each day starting the third day after plating. One group of cells was exposed to sham ultrasound as a control. The cultures were evaluated for cell proliferation (by [3H]thymidine incorporation and DNA measurement), steady- state mRNA levels of α1(I) and α1(II) procollagens and aggrecan (by Northern blotting), and proteoglycan synthesis (by [35S]sulfate incorporation). The results revealed that ultrasound causes increases in the level of aggrecan mRNA (p < 0.05) and in proteoglycan synthesis (p < 0.03) after three and five treatments. Expression of mRNA for α1(II) procollagen increased over time, but ultrasound had no stimulatory effect. Expression of mRNA for α1(I) procollagen was initially low and remained unchanged with time. Although cell proliferation increased with time in both groups, there was no statistically significant difference between the cultures treated with ultrasound and the controls (p = 0.1). The in vitro results support our previous in vivo findings that low-intensity ultrasound stimulates aggrecan mRNA expression and proteoglycan synthesis by chondrocytes, which may explain the role of ultrasound in advancing endochondral ossification, increasing the mechanical strength of fractures, and facilitating fracture repair.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine