Osteochondral junction leakage and cartilage joint lubrication

Qin Li, Saeed Miramini, David W. Smith, Bruce S. Gardiner, Lihai Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Objectives: Previous studies have shown that there is potentially interstitial fluid exchange between cartilage tissue and the subarticular spongiosa region in the case of injury or disease (e.g., osteoarthritis and osteoporosis). Interstitial flow is also required for cartilage lubrication under joint load. A key question then is how cartilage lubrication is modified by increased interstitial fluid leakage across the osteochondral junction. Thus, the purpose of this study is to develop a numerical model to investigate changes in cartilage lubrication with changes in osteochondral junction leakage. Methods: The multi-phase coupled model includes domains corresponding to the contact gap, cartilage tissue and subchondral bone plate region (ScBP). Each of these domains are treated as poroelastic systems, with their coupling implemented through mass and pressure continuity. The effects of osteochondral junction leakage on lubrication were investigated with a parametric study on the relative permeability between the ScBP and cartilage tissue. Results: Significant effects of ScBP permeability were predicted, especially during the early stage of the junction leakage development (early stage of the disease). There is a significant reduction in mixed-mode lubrication duration under the effect of increased junction leakage (the cartilage tissue mixed-mode lubrication duration is about 33% decrease for a relative permeability ratio of 0.1 between ScBP and cartilage tissue, and about 52% decrease under the osteoarthritis condition). In addition, the time for cartilage to reach steady-state consolidation is significantly reduced when ScBP permeability increases (the consolidation time reduces from roughly 2 h to 1.2 h when the relative permeability ratio increases from 0.001 to 0.1, and it reduces to 0.8 h for an advanced osteoarthritis condition). It is predicted that the initial friction coefficient could increase by over 60% when the ScBP permeability is consistent with an advanced osteoarthritis (OA) condition. Conclusion: Increased osteochondral junction leakage induced by joint injury and disease could result in increased cartilage surface wear rates due to more rapid interstitial fluid depressurization within articular cartilage.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107353
JournalComputer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


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