Of Mice, Men and Elephants: The Relation between Articular Cartilage Thickness and Body Mass
Articular cartilage covering the bone ends at the joint shows different chemical composition in different regions, depending on the mechanical and biological properties of that region. Several studies have shown a relationship between the chemical composition of the cartilage and biomechanical forces. In the present study we analysed five different knee joints divided into the following regions: F1-medial and lateral border of the patellar surface, F2-patellar surface of the femur, F3-medial and lateral condyles, P-articular surface of the patella and T-medial and lateral condyle of the tibia. The main glycosaminoglycan (GAG) present in these regions was chondroitin sulfate. Analysis of total GAG after digestion of the tissue with papain showed that in F2 and F3 there was a larger quantity of GAG/mg tissue, probably due to the dynamic character of the biomechanical forces in these regions. No significant differences were found for the extract and D1 fractions of the different regions. Analysis of the D4 fraction showed that the protein content was higher in the F3 and P regions than in their opposite T and F2 regions. The differences among the five regions may be a result of the non-uniform presence of biomechanical forces supported by these regions. It is important to consider that the intensity and direction of stress in different parts of a tissue may influence the composition of the extracellular matrix.