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Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2007 May;15(5):559-65. Epub 2007 Feb 2.

Calcification of human articular knee cartilage is primarily an effect of aging rather than osteoarthritis.

Author information

1
University of California, San Diego, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, CA 92093-0630, USA.

Erratum in

  • Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2009 Apr;17(4):556.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Pathologic calcification of articular cartilage in human knees is often associated with advanced age and conditions of osteoarthritis (OA). Coincidently, most studies that have characterized calcification in joint cartilage have examined populations that are aged and presenting with clinical symptoms. Generally, these studies rely upon relatively insensitive plain radiographs or synovial fluid crystal analyses to quantify calcium levels. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between cartilage calcification and aging in an unselected donor population of diverse age using highly sensitive calcification imaging.

METHODS:

A group of 106 knee blocks were obtained from 56 individual donors (25 females and 31 males, aged 12-74, avg. 50.3 years). Condylar surfaces were graded on a 4-point OA grading scale for cartilage degeneration. The condyles were cut into approximately 7-10mm thick slabs. Using a Faxitron radiography system, high-resolution images were taken of the slabs to specifically image calcification in cartilage. The quantified calcification areas were then analyzed and correlations with both OA grade and age were assessed.

RESULTS:

Every knee presented some measurable calcification. The relative calcium deposition had a significant positive correlation with age. This same positive correlation was seen between condyles showing grade 1 and 2 changes. OA grades higher than 2 did not present any further significant increase in calcium levels.

CONCLUSION:

These observations indicate that age rather than OA is the predominant factor driving progressive pathologic calcification in articular cartilage.

PMID:
17276093
PMCID:
PMC2707182
DOI:
10.1016/j.joca.2006.10.017
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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