A study of the relationship between molecular biomarkers of joint degeneration and the magnetic resonance-measured characteristics of cartilage in 16 symptomatic knees

Magn Reson Imaging. 2004 Oct;22(8):1117-23. doi: 10.1016/j.mri.2004.08.001.


We used quantitative magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to determine if relationships exist between proposed molecular biomarkers for degenerative joint disease (DJD) and structural characteristics of articular cartilage. Subjects were eight male and eight female volunteers diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Magnetic resonance images of the symptomatic knee were taken and blood samples were drawn. Concentrations of serum cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) and cleaved collagen neoepitope were compared to cartilage volume and cartilage T2, respectively, in four compartments of the tibiofemoral joint. A significant, negative correlation was found between serum COMP and medial tibia volume in the male subject group (rho=-.738, P=.037). A significant, positive correlation (rho=.881, P=.0039) was found between serum COMP and lateral femur volume in the female subject group. In both groups, positive correlations were found between serum C2C and cartilage T2, which were significant in two compartments of the male group (rho=.714, P=.047; rho=.738, P=.037) and similarly strong, but not statistically significant (rho=.750, P=.052), in one compartment of the female group. We identify strong and biologically relevant correlations between two proposed molecular biomarkers for DJD and MR measures of symptomatic knees of a small number of arthritic patients. Our findings support the hypothesis that cartilage molecular biomarkers reflect the molecular processes of cartilage degeneration and loss.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Cartilage Oligomeric Matrix Protein
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology*
  • Collagen Type II / analysis
  • Epitopes / analysis
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / blood
  • Female
  • Glycoproteins / blood
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Matrilin Proteins
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / diagnosis*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / pathology


  • Biomarkers
  • Cartilage Oligomeric Matrix Protein
  • Collagen Type II
  • Epitopes
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Glycoproteins
  • Matrilin Proteins
  • TSP5 protein, human