A recent study showed that exposure to hypotonic conditions increased chondrocyte surface area up to 234% by stretching the folded membrane, which may reduce the chondrocyte’s ability to deform under load. The goal of this study was to determine the effect of hypo-osmolarity on chondrocyte survival from load-induced injury. Bovine cartilage explants were incubated in either isotonic or hypotonic pH-buffered solution for 20 minutes, loaded with cyclic confined compression at 5MPa for 1 hour, and then assessed for cell viability using cell vital dyes and for pericellular matrix (PCM) using an type VI collagen antibody. Cell death in loaded explants was significantly greater than that of non-loaded controls (p<0.001). However, explants loaded in the hypotonic solution showed significantly greater cell death than those loaded in the isotonic solution. An increase of dead cells with flatten PCM were located in the superficial zone. Our findings suggest that hypo-osmolarity decreases the ability of chondrocytes in articular cartilage to survive from load-induced injury.

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