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Biorheology. 2006;43(3-4):517-21.

Post-traumatic osteoarthritis: the role of stress induced chondrocyte damage.

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University of Iowa Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, Iowa City, IA, USA.


Post-traumatic osteoarthritis is the form of osteoarthritis (OA) that develops following joint injury. Although its end-stage is indistinguishable from idiopathic OA, many patients with post-traumatic OA are younger than those with idiopathic OA, and they have a well-defined precipitating insult. Clinical and experimental studies suggest that excessive acute impact energy or chronic mechanical overload cause the degeneration of the articular surface responsible for post-traumatic OA. Yet, the mechanisms by which excessive mechanical force causes OA remain unknown. For these reasons it has not been possible to develop effective methods of preventing or decreasing the risk of post-traumatic OA. We hypothesized that mechanical loading that exceeds the tolerance of the articular surface causes chondrocyte damage due to oxidative stress. Our in vitro tests of human articular cartilage samples showed that shear stress causes chondrocyte death and that anti-oxidants decrease the shear stress induced cell death. These observations suggest that specific patterns of loading are particularly damaging to articular surfaces and that improved treatments of joint injuries may include mechanical methods of minimizing shear stresses and biologic methods of minimizing oxidative damage.

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