Osteoarthritis, the most common joint disorder, is a degenerative joint disease, for which no preventive or therapeutic biological interventions are available. Osteoarthritis is characterized by articular cartilage degradation and subchondral bone sclerosis, followed by articular cartilage loss and joint destruction.

We use a combined AFM and fluorescence microscopy approach to correlate the stiffness of articular cartilage with spatial chondrocyte patterns exhibiting the earliest identifiable osteoarthritis. Thus, we can obtain the relationship between two sensitive early OA markers, human articular cartilage surface stiffness determined by AFM and location-matched superficial zone chondrocyte spatial organizations by fluorescence microscopy. Local changes of superficial zone chondrocyte spatial organization not only correlate with a significant local reduction of the elastic modulus, but also with a local thinning of the collagen fibers, and a roughening of the articular surface. 



1. M. Tschaikowsky, M. Selig, S. Brander, B.N. Balzer, T. Hugel & B. Rolauffs
Proof-of-concept for the Detection of Early Osteoarthritis Pathology by Clinically Applicable Endomicroscopy and Quantitative AI-supported Optical Biopsy

Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 29 (2), 269-279 (2021); https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joca.2020.10.003

2. M. Tschaikowsky, T. Neumann, S. Brander, H. Haschke, B. Rolauffs, B.N. Balzer & T. Hugel

Hybrid Fluorescence-AFM Explores Articular Surface Degeneration in Early Osteoarthritis across Length Scales

Acta Biomaterialia in press (2021); https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actbio.2021.03.034

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