Three-dimensional collagen architecture in bovine articular cartilage

A K Jeffery, G W Blunn, C W Archer, G Bentley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The three-dimensional architecture of bovine articular cartilage collagen and its relationship to split lines has been studied with scanning electron microscopy. In the middle and superficial zones, collagen was organised in a layered or leaf-like manner. The orientation was vertical in the intermediate zone, curving to become horizontal and parallel to the articular surface in the superficial zone. Each leaf consisted of a fine network of collagen fibrils. Adjacent leaves merged or were closely linked by bridging fibrils and were arranged according to the split-line pattern. The surface layer (lamina splendens) was morphologically distinct. Although ordered, the overall collagen structure was different in each plane (anisotropic) a property described in previous morphological and biophysical studies. As all components of the articular cartilage matrix interact closely, the three-dimensional organisation of collagen is important when considering cartilage function and the processes of cartilage growth, injury and repair.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)795-801
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - British Volume
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1991


  • Animals
  • Cartilage, Articular
  • Cattle
  • Collagen
  • Freeze Fracturing
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning


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