Academic and research departmentsTechnology to improve diagnostics, therapies and care, School of Biosciences and Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences.
My research project
Generation of a novel in vitro system to investigate the effect of ageing on the articular cartilage
The articular cartilage (AC) is a smooth, hyaline tissue designed to absorb and distribute biomechanical forces experienced during joint movement. The AC encompasses the subchondral bones within diarthrodial joints and comprises a dense extracellular matrix (ECM) synthesised and maintained by its only resident cell, chondrocytes. The ECM is a dynamic environment and its components, as well as its structure, can greatly vary between physiology and disease. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a multifactorial musculoskeletal disease affecting around 240 million people worldwide. Its main hallmark is the progressive degeneration of the AC. Currently, no pharmacological treatment can halt its complex disease progression and/or promote cartilage healing. OA is considered to be a disease of the elderly as people are usually diagnosed with the disease in their late fifties, and “ageing” is considered to be one of the main predisposing factors. Nonetheless, the impact of “ageing” on cartilage homeostasis is quite difficult to measure as other comorbidities can influence and predispose OA development in older people. Studies in animals and humans showed that the composition of the ECM changes with age. The hydration level of the cartilage decreases and collagen crosslinking increases, compromising tissue elasticity and decreasing its ability to resist compressive loads. The effect of these changes has not been sufficiently characterised and currently, we do not have much data showing the effect of ageing-related modifications. Thus, the overarching goal of this project will be the development of an in vitro model of “aged matrix” to investigate the effect of ageing on the AC and its influence on predisposing OA development in the AC.