How Movement Lubricates Bone Joints

Taking a cue from machines that gently flex patients’ knees to assist them recover quicker from operation that was joint, bioengineering researchers at UC San Diego have shown that sliding forces used to cartilage surfaces cells that were prompt in that tissue to create molecules that lubricate and protect joints.

The results noted in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage are significant in the continuing attempts of the group directed by Robert Sah, a Howard Hughes Medi Cal Institute (HHMI) professor at UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering, to increase cartilage in the lab which can be utilized to to displace patients’ wounded or diseased joint surfaces.

“We’ve shown that shear forces on cartilage prompt chondrocyte cells in it to create proteoglycan 4,” said Sah.

A name that reveals polysaccharide components and its protein, proteoglycan, is a basic building block of connective tissue throughout the body. The cells of cartilage make several forms of proteoglycans, including several that build up in gristle and lead to its rigidity. Yet, proteoglycan-4 is mostly secreted to the joint fluid where it lubricates and coats cartilage surfaces.

Unfortunately, the sleek area eroded and of the articular cartilage at the ends of bones found at joints often deteriorates with aging, becoming increasingly roughened. Those joints become painful and advancement to degenerative arthritis. Surgeons can replace diseased and broken joints nevertheless they want in order to just resurface patients’ present joints with gristle.