Material and functional properties of articular cartilage and patellofemoral contact mechanics in an experimental model of osteoarthritis

J Biomech. 1998 Dec;31(12):1137-45. doi: 10.1016/s0021-9290(98)00136-5.


The purposes of this study were to determine the in situ functional and material properties of articular cartilage in an experimental model of joint injury, and to quantify the corresponding in situ joint contact mechanics. Experiments were performed in the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) transected knee of the cat and the corresponding, intact contralateral knee, 16 weeks following intervention. Cartilage thickness, stiffness, effective Young's modulus, and permeability were measured and derived from six locations of the knee. The total contact area and peak pressures in the patellofemoral joint were obtained in situ using Fuji Pressensor film, and comparisons between experimental and contralateral joint were made for corresponding loading conditions. Total joint contact area and peak pressure were increased and decreased significantly (alpha=0.01), respectively, in the experimental compared to the contralateral joint. Articular cartilage thickness and stiffness were increased and decreased significantly (alpha=0.01), respectively, in the experimental compared to the contralateral joint in the four femoral and patellar test locations. Articular cartilage material properties (effective Young's modulus and permeability) were the same in the ACL-transected and intact joints. These results demonstrate for the first time the effect of changes in articular cartilage properties on the load transmission across a joint. They further demonstrate a substantial change in the joint contact mechanics within 16 weeks of ACL transection. The results were corroborated by theoretical analysis of the contact mechanics in the intact and ACL-transected knee using biphasic contact analysis and direct input of cartilage properties and joint surface geometry from the experimental animals. We conclude that the joint contact mechanics in the ACL-transected cat change within 16 weeks of experimental intervention.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Cartilage, Articular / physiopathology*
  • Cats
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Elasticity
  • Femur / pathology
  • Femur / physiopathology*
  • Knee Joint / pathology
  • Knee Joint / physiopathology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology
  • Osteoarthritis / physiopathology*
  • Patella / pathology
  • Patella / physiopathology*
  • Permeability
  • Pressure
  • Stress, Mechanical