This review is focused on aging-related changes in cells and extracellular matrix of the articular cartilage. Major extracellular matrix changes are a reduced thickness of cartilage, proteolysis, advanced glycation and calcification. The cellular changes include reduced cell density, cellular senescence with abnormal secretory profiles, and impaired cellular defense mechanisms and anabolic responses. The extracellular and cellular changes compound each other, leading to biomechanical dysfunction and tissue destruction. The consequences of aging-related changes for joint homeostasis and risk for osteoarthritis are discussed. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled "Osteoarthritis".
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