Molecular basis of osteoarthritis: biomechanical aspects

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2002 Jan;59(1):27-35. doi: 10.1007/s00018-002-8402-1.


The unique biomechanical properties of healthy cartilage ensure that articular cartilage is able to transmit force between the joints while maintaining almost friction-free limb movement. In osteoarthritis, the biomechanical properties are compromised, but we still do not understood whether this precedes the onset of the disease or is a result of it. This review focuses on the physical changes to cartilage with age, disease, and mechanical loading, with specific reference to the increased collagen cross-linking that occurs with age (nonenzymatic glycation), and the response of chondrocytes to physiological and pathological loads. In addition, the biomechanical properties and matrix biosynthesis of cartilage from various joint surfaces of the knee and ankle are compared to elucidate reasons why the ankle is less affected by progressive osteoarthritis than the knee.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cartilage, Articular / injuries
  • Cartilage, Articular / metabolism
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Cartilage, Articular / physiopathology*
  • Chondrocytes / metabolism
  • Chondrocytes / pathology
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis / metabolism
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology
  • Osteoarthritis / physiopathology*
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology