Objective—To describe the presence and amount of apoptotic ligamentous cells in different areas of partially ruptured canine cranial cruciate ligaments (prCCLs) and to compare these findings with apoptosis of ligamentous cells in totally ruptured cranial cruciate ligaments (trCCLs).
Animals—20 dogs with prCCLs and 14 dogs with trCCLs.
Procedures—Dogs with prCCLs or trCCLs were admitted to the veterinary hospital for stifle joint treatment. Biopsy specimens of the intact area of prCCLs (group A) and the ruptured area of prCCLs (group B) as well as specimens from trCCLs (group C) were harvested during arthroscopy. Caspase-3 and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) detection were used to detect apoptotic ligamentous cells by immunohistochemistry.
Results—No difference was found in the degree of synovitis or osteophytosis between prCCLs and trCCLs. No difference was found in degenerative changes in ligaments between groups A and B. A substantial amount of apoptotic cells could be found in > 90% of all stained slides. A correlation (rs = 0.71) was found between the number of caspase-3-and PARP-positive cells. No significant difference was found in the amount of apoptotic cells among the 3 groups. No significant correlation could be detected between the degree of synovitis and apoptotic cells or osteophyte production and apoptotic cells.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The lack of difference between the 3 groups indicates that apoptosis could be a factor in the internal disease process leading to CCL rupture and is not primarily a consequence of the acute rupture of the ligament.