To gain insight regarding the rate at which cartilage tissue can sense and respond to a dynamic mechanical stimulus, we have examined the time-course of changes in biosynthetic activity following both the application and release of a static compressive stress. Cartilage harvested from the reserve zone of calf epiphyseal plate was subjected to unconfined static compressive stresses of 0, 0.25 and 0.5 MPa. Incorporation of [³⁵S]sulfate and [³H]proline was measured during loading periods of <1 to 26 h and after preloading periods of 0.5, 2 or 12 h. During loading, total incorporation decreased to steady levels with time constants estimated to be 0.25–4 h (proline) and 1–5 h (sulfate). Proline incorporation exceeded control levels for 3 h after release of a 2 or 12 h preload. Sulfate incorporation remained depressed for at least 4 h after release of a 12 h preload and remained at control levels following release of 0.5 and 2 h preloads. We conclude that the modulation of proline incorporation by both loading and load release is faster than the modulation of sulfate incorporation. Furthermore, the response to unloading is not just the inverse of the response to loading; this nonlinearity suggests that the response to dynamic loading would not be determined simply by the time average component of the dynamic load.
Cartilage; Epiphyseal plate; Mechanical force; Glycosaminoglycan biosynthesis; Protein biosynthesis; GAG; glycosaminoglycan; DMEM; Dulbecco's Modified Eagle's Medium; HBSS; Hanks' buffered salt solution