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*The Yucatan Minipig Temporomandibular Joint Disc Structure–Function Relationships Support Its Suitability for Human Comparative Studies


Frequent involvement of the disc in temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders warrants attempts to tissue engineer TMJ disc replacements. Physiologically, a great degree of similarity is seen between humans and farm pigs (FPs), but the pig's rapid growth confers a significant challenge for in vivo experiments. Minipigs have a slower growth rate and are smaller than FPs, but minipig TMJ discs have yet to be fully characterized. The objective of this study was to determine the suitability of the minipig for TMJ studies by extensive structural and functional characterization. The properties of minipig TMJ discs closely reproduced previously reported morphological, biochemical, and biomechanical values of human and FP discs. The width/length dimension ratio of the minipig TMJ disc was 1.95 (1.69 for human and 1.94 for FP). The biochemical evaluation revealed, on average per wet weight, 24.3% collagen (22.8% for human and 24.9% for FP); 0.8% glycosaminoglycan (GAG; 0.5% for human and 0.4% for FP); and 0.03% DNA (0.008% for human and 0.02% for FP). Biomechanical testing revealed, on average, compressive relaxation modulus of 50 kPa (37 kPa for human and 32 kPa for FP), compressive instantaneous modulus of 1121 kPa (1315 kPa for human and 1134 kPa for FP), and coefficient of viscosity of 13 MPa·s (9 MPa·s for human and 3 MPa·s for FP) at 20% strain. These properties also varied topographically in accordance to those of human and FP TMJ discs. Anisotropy, quantified by bidirectional tensile testing and histology, again was analogous among minipig, human, and FP TMJ discs. The minipig TMJ's ginglymoarthrodial nature was verified through cone beam computer tomography. Collectively, the similarities between minipig and human TMJ discs support the use of minipig as a relevant model for TMJ research; considering the practical advantages conferred by its growth rate and size, the minipig may be a preferred model over FP.

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