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Keywords:

  • fibrocartilage;
  • glycosaminoglycan;
  • insertion site;
  • proteoglycan;
  • wrist

Abstract

The scapholunate interosseous ligament (SLIL) connects the scaphoid and lunate bones and plays a crucial role in carpal kinematics. Its rupture leads to carpal instability and impairment of radiocarpal joint function. As the ligament is one of the first structures affected in rheumatoid arthritis, we conducted an immunohistochemical study of cadaveric tissue to determine whether it contains known autoantigens for rheumatoid arthritis. We immunolabelled the ligament from one hand in 12 cadavers with monoclonal antibodies directed against a wide range of extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules associated with both fibrous and cartilaginous tissues. The labelling profile has also enabled us to comment on how the molecular composition of the ligament relates to its mechanical function. All regions of the ligament labelled for types I, III and VI collagens, chondroitin 4 and 6 sulphates, keratan sulphate, dermatan sulphate, versican, tenascin and cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP). However, both entheses labelled strongly for type II collagen, aggrecan and link protein and were distinctly fibrocartilaginous. In some regions, the ligament attached to bone via a region of hyaline cartilage that was continuous with articular cartilage. Labelling for cartilage molecules in the midsubstance was most evident dorsally. We conclude that the SLIL has an ECM which is typical of other highly fibrocartilaginous ligaments that experience both tensile load and shear. The presence of aggrecan, link protein, COMP and type II collagen could explain why the ligament may be a target for autoantigenic destruction in some forms of rheumatoid arthritis.