2012 IR&D Annual Report

Characterization of Baboon Knee Articular Cartilage Mechanical Properties,

Principal Investigators
Todd Bredbenner
Daniel Nicolella

Inclusive Dates:  01/06/12 – 05/06/12

Background — Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis and the major cause of activity limitation and physical disability in older people. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has recognized the public health significance of OA and has issued a new Program Announcement (PA) aimed at encouraging and accelerating the characterization of new and underutilized models of osteoarthritis. A researcher from the Texas Biomedical Research Institute (TxBiomed) has been actively performing preliminary internal research at TxBiomed to characterize the incidence and severity of knee OA in baboons. In preparation for a collaborative response to this PA and in order to expand SwRI's musculoskeletal research in the key growth area of OA, SwRI researchers sought to characterize the mechanical behavior of baboon knee cartilage from a small subset of animals with emphasis on the investigation of age, sex, and OA status effects.

Approach — The objectives of this study were:

  1. Evaluate whether the mechanical properties of baboon cartilage follow similar trends with age and sex as humans.
  2. Evaluate whether the presence of affected cartilage leads to degradation in cartilage mechanical properties.

Accomplishments — Despite the small sample sizes used in this project, statistical differences were demonstrated between cartilage specimens obtained from young and old baboons in both strength and the strain at peak stress. It is well documented that cartilage mechanical properties demonstrate decline with age in humans, and SwRI's demonstration that baboon cartilage properties behaves in a similar fashion, further justifies the use of the baboon as a model for the human osteoarthritic condition, in addition to the physiological similarities between species. These results, along with other data previously collected at TxBiomed (in collaboration with SwRI), allow the pursuit of targeted funding opportunities within NIH and with commercial pharmaceutical and imaging clients. SwRI researchers believe that their preliminary data will allow for significant, externally funded collaborative research that can be applied to pre-clinical drug development, genetic analysis of OA susceptibility, and assessment of osteoarthritis risk, incidence, and progression from clinical MRI data.

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Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is a multidisciplinary, independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization with 9 technical divisions.