Risk factors for magnetic resonance imaging-detected patellofemoral and tibiofemoral cartilage loss during a six-month period: the joints on glucosamine study

Arthritis Rheum. 2012 Jun;64(6):1888-98. doi: 10.1002/art.34353. Epub 2011 Dec 27.


Objective: To assess several baseline risk factors that may predict patellofemoral and tibiofemoral cartilage loss during a 6-month period.

Methods: For 177 subjects with chronic knee pain, 3T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of both knees was performed at baseline and followup. Knees were semiquantitatively assessed, evaluating cartilage morphology, subchondral bone marrow lesions, meniscal morphology/extrusion, synovitis, and effusion. Age, sex, and body mass index (BMI), bone marrow lesions, meniscal damage/extrusion, synovitis, effusion, and prevalent cartilage damage in the same subregion were evaluated as possible risk factors for cartilage loss. Logistic regression models were applied to predict cartilage loss. Models were adjusted for age, sex, treatment, and BMI.

Results: Seventy-nine subregions (1.6%) showed incident or worsening cartilage damage at followup. None of the demographic risk factors was predictive of future cartilage loss. Predictors of patellofemoral cartilage loss were effusion, with an adjusted odds ratio (OR) of 3.5 (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 1.3-9.4), and prevalent cartilage damage in the same subregion with an adjusted OR of 4.3 (95% CI 1.3-14.1). Risk factors for tibiofemoral cartilage loss were baseline meniscal extrusion (adjusted OR 3.6 [95% CI 1.3-10.1]), prevalent bone marrow lesions (adjusted OR 4.7 [95% CI 1.1-19.5]), and prevalent cartilage damage (adjusted OR 15.3 [95% CI 4.9-47.4]).

Conclusion: Cartilage loss over 6 months is rare, but may be detected semiquantitatively by 3T MRI and is most commonly observed in knees with Kellgren/Lawrence grade 3. Predictors of patellofemoral cartilage loss were effusion and prevalent cartilage damage in the same subregion. Predictors of tibiofemoral cartilage loss were prevalent cartilage damage, bone marrow lesions, and meniscal extrusion.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00377286.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cartilage, Articular / drug effects
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology*
  • Chronic Pain / drug therapy
  • Chronic Pain / pathology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Glucosamine / pharmacology*
  • Glucosamine / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / drug effects
  • Knee Joint / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / drug therapy
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / pathology*
  • Risk Adjustment
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Glucosamine

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00377286