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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 1/2015

Impact of storage conditions on electromechanical, histological and histochemical properties of osteochondral allografts

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders > Ausgabe 1/2015
Tomas Mickevicius, Alius Pockevicius, Audrius Kucinskas, Rimtautas Gudas, Justinas Maciulaitis, Aurelija Noreikaite, Arvydas Usas
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

TM participated in the design of the experiment, carried out the experimentation and analysis of the data. AP was involved in data acquisition, analysis and interpretation. AK participated in the design of the experiment and data aquisition. RG made substantial contribution to concept and design of the experiment, and has been involved in drafting the manuscript and revising it critically. JM was involved in analysis and interpretation of data, also participated in drafting the manuscript and revising it critically. AN participated in drafting the manuscript and revising it critically. AU participated in the design of the experiment, carried out experimentation, drafted the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Osteochondral allograft transplantation has a good clinical outcome, however, there is still debate on optimization of allograft storage protocol. Storage temperature and nutrient medium composition are the most critical factors for sustained biological activity of grafts before implantation. In this study, we performed a time-dependent in vitro experiment to investigate the effect of various storage conditions on electromechanical, histological and histochemical properties of articular cartilage.


Osteochondral grafts derived from goat femoral condyles were frozen at −70 °C or stored at 4 °C and 37 °C in the medium supplemented with or without insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). After 14 and 28 days the cartilage samples were quantitatively analysed for electromechanical properties, glycosaminoglycan distribution, histological structure, chondrocyte viability and apoptosis. The results were compared between the experimental groups and correlations among different evaluation methods were determined.


Storage at −70 °C and 37 °C significantly deteriorated cartilage electromechanical, histological and histochemical properties. Storage at 4 °C maintained the electromechanical quantitative parameter (QP) and glycosaminoglycan expression near the normal levels for 14 days. Although hypothermic storage revealed reduced chondrocyte viability and increased apoptosis, these parameters were superior compared with the storage at −70 °C and 37 °C. IGF-1 supplementation improved the electromechanical QP, chondrocyte viability and histological properties at 37 °C, but the effect lasted only 14 days. Electromechanical properties correlated with the histological grading score (r = 0.673, p < 0.001), chondrocyte viability (r = −0.654, p < 0.001) and apoptosis (r = 0.416, p < 0.02). In addition, apoptosis correlated with glycosaminoglycan distribution (r = −0.644, p < 0.001) and the histological grading score (r = 0.493, p = 0.006).


Our results indicate that quality of allografts is better preserved at currently established 4 °C storage temperature. Storage at −70 °C or at 37 °C is unable to maintain cartilage function and metabolic activity. IGF-1 supplementation at 37 °C can enhance chondrocyte viability and improve electromechanical and histological properties of the cartilage, but the impact persists only 14 days. The correlations between cartilage electromechanical quantitative parameter (QP) and metabolic activity were detected. Our findings indicate that non-destructive assessment of cartilage by Arthro-BST is a simple and reliable method to evaluate allograft quality, and could be routinely used before implantation.
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