We tested the hypothesis that muscle cross-sectional areas (MCSAs) are more highly (and independently) correlated with cartilage morphology than are body height and weight, and that the physiological reduction of cartilage thickness with aging is associated with a proportional, age-dependent decrease in MCSAs. In 59 asymptomatic individuals (23-75 years old), morphological parameters of the knee cartilages (volume, thickness, and bone-cartilage interface area), and MCSAs were determined from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data. Multiple regression models were used to calculate which proportion of the variability of the normal cartilage morphology can be predicted based on independent variables. MCSAs and body height and weight showed correlation coefficients of +0.66, +0.60, and +0.25, respectively, with knee-joint cartilage volume. The correlation coefficients with cartilage thickness were +0.44, +0.35, and +0.24, respectively. Age accounted for a significant (P<0.01) reduction in cartilage thickness, but there was no proportional change of MCSAs. Approximately 76% of the variability of the knee cartilage volume could be predicted from independent variables in a multiple regression model with MCSAs contributing significant, independent information. In conclusion, we find that MCSAs are more highly correlated with cartilage morphology than are body height and weight. The significant decrease in cartilage volume and thickness with age is not associated with a proportional decrease in MCSAs.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.