Anatomy, biochemistry, and physiology of articular cartilage

Invest Radiol. 2000 Oct;35(10):573-80. doi: 10.1097/00004424-200010000-00003.


Articular cartilage serves as a load-bearing elastic material that is responsible for the frictionless movement of the surfaces of articulating joints. Its ability to undergo reversible deformation depends on its structural organization, including the specific arrangement of the matrix macromolecules and the chondrocytes. Interactions between the matrix and chondrocytes are responsible for the biological and mechanical properties of articular cartilage and enable it to respond by effecting a balance between anabolism and catabolism as well as continual internal remodeling. Age-related changes in the function of chondrocytes may contribute to the initiation and progression of osteoarthritis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / pathology
  • Aging / physiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cartilage, Articular / anatomy & histology*
  • Cartilage, Articular / metabolism
  • Cartilage, Articular / physiology
  • Chondrocytes / cytology
  • Chondrocytes / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology
  • Osteoarthritis / physiopathology