Preserving Bone Health

A recent investigation reveals synovial fluid glycoprotein reduces cartilage deterioration.

A team of researchers in North Carolina has discovered that lubricin, a synovial fluid glycoprotein, reduces wear to bone cartilage. The finding may have implications for the treatment of sufferers of osteoarthritis.

The research was presented at the AVS 57th International Symposium & Exhibition.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. The disease mostly affects cartilage, the slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones where they meet to form a joint, and allows bones to glide over one another with limited friction and wear. Osteoarthritis causes cartilage to be broken down through a vicious cycle of mechanical and metabolic factors, and mechanical wear of cartilage is widely believed to contribute to this process. Eventually, the bones under the cartilage rub together, which can cause a tremendous amount of pain, swelling, and loss of motion at the joint.

Many studies have examined cartilage friction and lubrication with the goal of understanding cartilage wear prevention. Very few have focused on measuring wear directly, though, and until now no other studies have directly assessed the effects of synovial fluid constituents in mediating wear.

"We measured the effect of the synovial fluid protein lubricin on cartilage wear," said research team member Stefan Zauscher, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, as well as biomedical engineering, at Duke University in Durham, N.C., in a press release.

"Our measurements were performed at the surface level using an atomic force microscope with pressures and sliding speeds comparable to those seen in joints. The measurements show a direct link between lubricin in solution and reduction of cartilage wear," says Zauscher.

This indicates that lubricin is important for cartilage preservation physiologically, which may have important implications for treating or preventing joint disease in the future.

The presentation: was titled, "Lubricin Reduces Microscale Cartilage Wear."

The AVS International Symposium and Exhibition address cutting-edge issues associated with vacuum science and technology in both the research and manufacturing communities. The Symposium is a week long forum for science and technology exchange featuring papers from technical divisions and technology groups, and topical conferences on emerging technologies. The equipment exhibition is one of the largest in the world and provides an opportunity to view the latest products and services offered by over 200 participating companies. More than 3,000 scientists and engineers gather from around the world to attend.

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