Effect of decorin and dermatan sulfate on the mechanical properties of a neocartilage

Jack L. Lewis, David A. Krawczak, Ted R. Oegema, Jennifer J. Westendorf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Decorin is known to influence the size of collagen fibrils in ligaments and tendons and it has been hypothesized to provide a structural link between collagen fibrils in connective tissues, including cartilage. Coincidently, mechanical properties of skin, ligament, and tendons are altered in decorin knockout mice, suggesting it may influence the structural properties of tissue or tissue matrix organization. To further examine the role of decorin in the extracellular matrix development and subsequent material properties of cartilage, tissue (neocartilage) was grown in a 3D culture model using a pure population of genetically modified chondrocytes stably overexpressing decorin (DCN) or decorin lacking dermatan sulfate (MDCN). An empty vector (CON) served as a virus control. Following generation of the cartilage-like tissues, mechanical properties in tension and compression, collagen fibril diameter, matrix organization, and biochemistry of the tissue were determined. There were no differences between CON and DCN tissues in any parameter measured. In contrast, tissue generated in MDCN cultures was thinner, had higher collagen density, and higher elastic moduli as compared to both CON and DCN tissues. Considering there was no difference in stiffness between CON and DCN tissues, the notion that decorin contributes to the mechanical properties via load transfer was refuted in this model. However, contrasts in the mechanical properties of the MDCN tissue suggest that the dermatan sulfate chains on decorin influences the organization/maturation and resultant mechanical properties of the matrix by as an yet-unidentified regulatory mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-170
Number of pages12
JournalConnective Tissue Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2010


  • Cartilage
  • Decorin
  • Dermatan sulfate
  • Mechanical properties
  • Tissue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Biochemistry
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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