DOI: 10.1042/bsr20231730 ISSN: 0144-8463

Alteration in cartilage matrix stiffness as an indicator and modulator of osteoarthritis

jing song, xuemin zeng, Chenzhi Li, Hongyan Yin, sui mao, dapeng ren
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics

Osteoarthritis (OA) is characterized by cartilage degeneration and destruction, leading to joint ankylosis and disability. The major challenge in diagnosing OA at early stage is not only lack of clinical symptoms but also the insufficient histological and immunohistochemical signs. Alteration in cartilage stiffness during OA progression, especially at OA initiation, has been confirmed by growing evidences. Moreover, the stiffness of cartilage extracellular matrix (ECM), pericellular matrix (PCM) and chondrocytes during OA development are dynamically changed in unique and distinct fashions, revealing possibly inconsistent conclusions when detecting cartilage matrix stiffness at different locations and scales. In addition, it will be discussed regarding the mechanisms through which OA-related cartilage degenerations exhibit stiffened or softened matrix, highlighting some critical events that generally incurred to cartilage stiffness alteration, as well as some typical molecules that participated in constituting the mechanical properties of cartilage. Finally, in vitro culturing chondrocytes in various stiffness-tunable scaffolds provided a reliable method to explore the matrix stiffness-dependent modulation of chondrocyte metabolism, which offers valuable information on optimizing implant scaffolds to maximally promote cartilage repair and regeneration during OA. Overall, this review systematically and comprehensively elucidated the current progresses in the relationship between cartilage stiffness alteration and OA progression. We hope that deeper attention and understanding in this researching field will not only develop more innovative methods in OA early detection and diagnose, but also provide promising ideas in OA therapy and prognosis.

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