A Spectrophotometric Analysis of Human Osteoarthritic Cartilage Explants Subjected to Specific Capacitively Coupled Electric Fields


We have previously shown that capacitively coupled electrical stimulation of either normal bovine articular chondrocytes or osteoarthritic human articular cartilage explants resulted in up-regulation of cartilage matrix gene expression and down-regulation of metalloproteinase gene expression. In addition, collagen and proteoglycan protein levels were also elevated. To determine visually the effect of specific electric fields on modifying cartilage structure, freshly harvested human full-thickness osteoarthritic cartilage explants were stimulated in the absence or presence of interleukin-1β, an inflammatory cytokine, and were examined photographically and spectrophotometrically. Hexosamine and hydroxyproline contents were also determined. Spectrophotometric analysis was used to quantify any changes in the depth of defects in the cartilage ranging from surface level (red-colored) to the deepest affected layer (blue-colored). Interleukin-1β treatment alone caused significant additional cartilage erosion. Electrical stimulation alone resulted in significant decreases in the cartilage defects. Electrical stimulation in the presence of interleukin-1β resulted in a small, but significant, surface improvement. Meta-analysis also confirmed a significant increase in the hexosamine and hydroxyproline contents (indicating matrix deposition). It was concluded that an appropriate electric field could modify osteoarthritic lesions in full-thickness cartilage plugs by increasing matrix production and/or by decreasing matrix destruction. Furthermore, it appears that spectrophotometric analysis is a relatively easy method for quantifying the “filling in” or healing of articular cartilage defects.

Share and Cite:

C. Brighton, W. Wang, C. Clark and A. Praestgaard, "A Spectrophotometric Analysis of Human Osteoarthritic Cartilage Explants Subjected to Specific Capacitively Coupled Electric Fields," Open Journal of Biophysics, Vol. 3 No. 2, 2013, pp. 158-164. doi: 10.4236/ojbiphy.2013.32019.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] W. M. Lai, D. D. Sun, G. A. Ateshian, X. E. Guo and V. C. Mow, “Electrical Signals for Chondrocytes in Cartilage,” Biorheology Vol. 39, 2002, pp. 39-45.
[2] V. C. Mow, C. C. Wang and C. T. Hung, “The Extracellular Matrix, Interstitial Fluid and Ions as a Mechanical Signal Transducer in Articular Cartilage,” Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, Vol. 7, No. 1, 1999, pp. 41-58. doi:10.1053/joca.1998.0161
[3] M. L. Gray, A. M. Pizzanelli, A. J. Grodzinsky and R. C. Lee, “Mechanical and Physicochemical Determinants of the Chondrocyte Biosynthetic Response,” Journal of Orthopaedic Research, Vol. 6, No. 6, 1988, pp. 777-792. doi:10.1002/jor.1100060602
[4] B. Schmidt-Rohlfing, U. Schneider, H. Goost and J. Silny, “Mechanically Induced Electrical Potentials of Articular Cartilage,” Journal of Biomechanics, Vol. 35, No. 4, 2002, pp. 475-482. doi:10.1016/S0021-9290(01)00232-9
[5] C. C.-B. Wang, X. E. Guo, D. Sun, V. C. Mow, G. A. Ateshian and C. T. Hung, “The Functional Environment of Chondrocytes within Cartilage Subjected to Compressive Loading: A Theoretical and Experimental Approach,” Biorheology, Vol. 39, No. 1-2, 2002, pp. 11-25.
[6] W. Wang, Z. Wang, G. Zhang, C. C. Clark and C. T. Brighton, “Up-Regulation of Cartilage Matrix Genes and Products by Electric Fields,” Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, Vol. 427S, 2004, pp. S163-S173. doi:10.1097/01.blo.0000143837.53434.5c
[7] C. T. Brighton, W. Wang and C. C. Clark, “Up-Regulation of Matrix in Bovine Articular Cartilage Explants by Electric Fields,” Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol. 342, No. 2, 2006, pp. 556-561. doi:10.1016/j.bbrc.2006.01.171
[8] C. T. Brighton, W. Wang and C. C. Clark, “The Effect of Electric Fields on Gene and Protein Expression in Human Osteoarthritic Cartilage Explants,” Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, Vol. 90, No. 4, 2008, pp. 833-848. doi:10.2106/JBJS.F.01437
[9] J. Xu, W. Wang, C. C. Clark and C. T. Brighton, “Signal Transduction in Electrically Stimulated Articular Chondrocytes Involves Translocation of Extracellular Calcium through Voltage-Gated Channels,” Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, Vol. 17, No. 3, 2009, pp. 397-405. doi:10.1016/j.joca.2008.07.001
[10] J. H. Kellgren and J. S. Lawrence, “Radiological Assessment of Osteo-Arthritis,” Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, Vol. 16, 1957, pp. 494-502. doi:10.1136/ard.16.4.494
[11] J. Black, “Electrical Stimulation. Its Role in Growth, Repair, and Remodeling of the Musculoskeletal System,” Praeger Publishers, Westport, 1987.
[12] K. S. Rostand, J. R. Baker, B. Caterson and J. E. Christner, “Articular Cartilage Proteoglycans from Normal and Osteoarthritic Mice,” Arthritis & Rheumatism, Vol. 29, No. 1, 1986, pp. 95-105. doi:10.1002/art.1780290113
[13] C. Labarca and K. Paigen, “A Simple, Rapid, and Sensitive DNA Assay Procedure,” Analytical Biochemistry, Vol. 102, No. 2, 1980, pp. 344-352. doi:10.1016/0003-2697(80)90165-7
[14] B. R. Switzer and G. K. Summer, “Improved Method for Hydroxyproline Analysis in Tissue Hydrolyzates,” Analytical Biochemistry, Vol. 39, No. 2, 1971, pp. 487-491. doi:10.1016/0003-2697(71)90438-6
[15] R. Gatt and E. R. Berman, “A Rapid Procedure for the Estimation of Amino Sugars on a Micro Scale,” Analytical Biochemistry, Vol. 15, No. 1, 1966, pp. 167-171. doi:10.1016/0003-2697(66)90262-4
[16] D. M. Ciombor, R. K. Aaron, S. Wang and B. Simon, “Modification of Osteoarthritis by Pulsed Electromagnetic Field—A Morphological Study,” Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, Vol. 11, No. 6, 2003, pp. 455-462. doi:10.1016/S1063-4584(03)00083-9
[17] T. M. Zizic, K. C. Hoffman, P. A. Holt, D. S. Hungerford, J. R. O’Dell, M. A. Jacobs, et al., “The Treatment of Osteoarthritis of the Knee with Pulsed Electrical Stimulation,” Journal of Rheumatology, Vol. 22, No. 9, 1995, pp. 1757-1761.
[18] J. Farr, M. A. Mont, D. Garland, J. R. Caldwell and T. M. Zicic, “Pulsed Electrical Stimulation in Patients with Osteoarthritis of the Knee: Followup in 288 Patients Who Had Failed Non-Operative Therapy,” Surgical Technology International, Vol. 15, 2006, pp. 227-233.
[19] M. A. Mont, D. S. Hungerford, J. R. Caldwell, P. S. Ragland, K. C. Hoffman, Y. D. He, et al., “The Use of Pulsed Electrical Stimulation to Defer TKA in Patients with Osteoarthritis of the Knee,” Orthopedics, Vol. 29, No. 10, 2006, pp. 887-892.
[20] D. H. Trock, A. J. Bollet, R. H. Dyer Jr., L. P. Fielding, W. K. Miner and R. Markoll, “A Double-Blind Trial of the Clinical Effects of Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields in Osteoarthritis,” Journal of Rheumatology, Vol. 20, No. 3, 1993, pp. 456-460.
[21] D. H. Trock, A. J. Bollet and R. Markoll, “The Effect of Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields in the Treatment of Osteoarthritis of the Knee and Cervical Spine. Report of Randomized, Double Blind, Placebo Controlled Trials,” Journal of Rheumatology, Vol. 21, No. 10, 1994, pp. 1903-1911.
[22] P. Nicolakis, J. Kollmitzer, R. Crevenna, C. Bittner, C. B. Erdogmus and J. Nicolakis, “Pulsed Magnetic Field Therapy for Osteoarthritis of the Knee—A Double-Blind Sham-Controlled Trial,” Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift, Vol. 114, No. 15-16, 2002, pp. 678-684.

Copyright © 2022 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.