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NMR Biomed. 2012 Apr;25(4):538-44. doi: 10.1002/nbm.1769. Epub 2011 Aug 18.

High-resolution magic angle spinning NMR spectroscopy of human osteoarthritic cartilage.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative disease of the joints and results in changes in the biochemical composition of cartilage. Previous studies have been undertaken that have used high-resolution NMR spectroscopy to study the biochemical composition of porcine, canine and bovine cartilage. In the present study, high-resolution magical angle spinning (HR-MAS) NMR spectroscopy at 11.7 T has been used to characterize metabolites and detect differences in the spectral signature of human knee articular cartilage from non-OA healthy cadaver knees and samples acquired from severe OA patients at the time of total knee replacement surgery. A statistically significant difference in the alanine (1.47 p.p.m.), N-acetyl (2.04 p.p.m.), choline (3.25 p.p.m.) and glycine (3.55 p.p.m.) metabolite levels was observed between healthy and OA specimens. The results of the present study indicate that a decrease in the intensity of N-acetyl resonance occurs in the later stages of OA. A positive correlation of the N-acetyl levels as measured by (1)H HR-MAS NMR spectroscopy with the total proteoglycan content in the same cartilage specimens as measured by the glycosaminoglycan (GAG) assay was observed. This indicates that N-acetyl can serve as an important bio-marker of OA disease progression. A decrease in the alanine concentration in OA may be attributed to the degradation of the collagen framework with disease progression and eventual loss of the degradation products that are transported from cartilage into the synovial cavity.

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