Background: Articular cartilage structure and chondrocyte health are sensitive and reliant on dynamic joint loading during activities. The purpose of this pilot study was to determine the association between measures of individual and cumulative knee joint loading with T2 relaxation times in the knee cartilage of young individuals without knee injury. Methods: Twelve participants (17–30 years old) without history of knee injury or surgery completed MRI, physical activity (PA), and biomechanical gait testing. T2 relaxation times were calculated in the cartilage within the patella and lateral and medial compartments. Accelerometry was used to measure mean daily step counts, minutes of PA, and % sedentary time over 7 days. Vertical ground reaction force, external knee joint moments and peak knee flexion angle were measured during stance phase of gait using three-dimensional motion capture. Cumulative knee joint loading was calculated as daily step count by external knee joint moment impulse. The relationship between measures of knee joint loading and T2 relaxation times was assessed using Pearson correlations. Results: Higher T2 relaxation times in the femoral and tibial cartilage were consistently correlated to greater body mass, daily step counts, moderate and vigorous PA, and peak knee joint moments (r = 0.10–0.84). Greater cumulative knee flexion and adduction loading was associated with higher T2 relaxation times in the femoral and tibial cartilage (r = 0.16–0.65). Conclusion: Preliminary findings suggest that individual loading factors and cumulative knee joint loading are associated with higher T2 relaxation times in the articular cartilage of young, healthy knees.
- Physical activity
- Quantitative magnetic resonance imaging
- T2 relaxation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine