Effect of collagen cross-linking on quantitative MRI parameters of articular cartilage

J. Rautiainen, M. T. Nieminen, E. N. Salo, H. T. Kokkonen, S. Mangia, S. Michaeli, O. Gröhn, J. S. Jurvelin, J. Töyräs, M. J. Nissi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objective To investigate the sensitivity of quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) parameters to increase of collagen cross-linking in articular cartilage, a factor possibly contributing to the aging-related development of osteoarthritis (OA). The issue has not been widely studied although collagen cross-links may significantly affect the evaluation of cartilage imaging outcome. Design Osteochondral samples (n = 14) were prepared from seven bovine patellae. To induce cross-linking, seven samples were incubated in threose while the other seven served as non-treated controls. The specimens were scanned at 9.4 T for T1, T1Gd (dGEMRIC), T2, adiabatic and continuous wave (CW) T, adiabatic T and T1sat relaxation times. Specimens from adjacent tissue were identically treated and used for reference to determine biomechanical properties, collagen, proteoglycan and cross-link contents, fixed charge density (FCD), collagen fibril anisotropy and water concentration of cartilage. Results In the threose-treated sample group, cross-links (pentosidine, lysyl pyridinoline (LP)), FCD and equilibrium modulus were significantly (P < 0.05) higher as compared to the non-treated group. Threose treatment resulted in significantly greater T1Gd relaxation time constant (+26%, P < 0.05), although proteoglycan content was not altered. Adiabatic and CW-T were also significantly increased (+16%, +28%, P < 0.05) while pre-contrast T1 was significantly decreased (−10%, P < 0.05) in the threose group. T2, T and T1sat did not change significantly. Conclusion Threose treatment induced collagen cross-linking and changes in the properties of articular cartilage, which were detected by T1, T1Gd and T relaxation time constants. Cross-linking should be considered especially when interpreting the outcome of contrast-enhanced MRI in aging populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1656-1664
Number of pages9
JournalOsteoarthritis and Cartilage
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Osteoarthritis Research Society International


  • Articular cartilage
  • Collagen
  • Cross-linking
  • Quantitative MRI
  • Relaxation time
  • Threose


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