Proline metabolism in vivo was studied during the development of immobilization osteoarthritis in rabbits. Collagen content was measured as the hydroxyproline concentration of the tissue in question. The incorporation of [3H]proline was used as the indicator for total protein synthesis; collagen synthesis rate was estimated from measurements of the specific radioactivity of hydroxyproline. Cartilage samples from knee and hip joints were analysed after 3, 7, 11, 18, 35 and 56 days of immobilization. The total protein and collagen synthesis rates of the immobilized legs increased and reached a maximum after 11-35 days. Although they decreased thereafter, these rates remained elevated to the end of the experiment. A slight increase in the synthetic activity of the non-immobilized contralateral legs was also detected after 7--18 days of immobilization. The isotope incorporation was markedly higher in tibial marginal tissue than in weight-bearing cartilage. In spite of the increased synthesis, no clear changes were found in the collagen content of the tissues studied during the experiment.

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