Multi-parametric MRI characterization of enzymatically degraded articular cartilage

Mikko J. Nissi, Elli Noora Salo, Virpi Tiitu, Timo Liimatainen, Shalom Michaeli, Silvia Mangia, Jutta Ellermann, Miika T. Nieminen

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33 Scopus citations


Several laboratory and rotating frame quantitative MRI parameters were evaluated and compared for detection of changes in articular cartilage following selective enzymatic digestion. Bovine osteochondral specimens were subjected to 44 h incubation in control medium or in collagenase or chondroitinase ABC to induce superficial collagen or proteoglycan (glycosaminoglycan) alterations. The samples were scanned at 9.4 T for T1, T1 Gd (dGEMRIC), T2, adiabatic T1 ρ, adiabatic T2 ρ, continuous-wave T1 ρ, TRAFF2, and T1 sat relaxation times and for magnetization transfer ratio (MTR). For reference, glycosaminoglycan content, collagen fibril orientation and biomechanical properties were determined. Changes primarily in the superficial cartilage were noted after enzymatic degradation. Most of the studied parameters were sensitive to the destruction of collagen network, whereas glycosaminoglycan depletion was detected only by native T1 and T1 Gd relaxation time constants throughout the tissue and by MTR superficially. T1, adiabatic T1 ρ, adiabatic T2 ρ, continuous-wave T1 ρ, and T1 sat correlated significantly with the biomechanical properties while T1 Gd correlated with glycosaminoglycan staining. The findings indicated that most of the studied MRI parameters were sensitive to both glycosaminoglycan content and collagen network integrity, with changes due to enzymatic treatment detected primarily in the superficial tissue. Strong correlation of T1, adiabatic T, adiabatic T2 ρ, continuous-wave T1 ρ, and T1 sat with the altered biomechanical properties, reflects that these parameters were sensitive to critical functional properties of cartilage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1111-1120
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • MRI
  • biomechanics
  • cartilage
  • relaxation
  • rotating frame of reference


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