Cartilage in our joints contains collagen which behaves a bit like the liquid crystals on a smart phone screen, according to researchers at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).
The collagen changes its crystallinity in response to physical forces, so the ordered arrangement in collagen molecules of the cartilage in our knees may be flipping from one structural state to another with every step we take.
Results - Journal - ACS - Nano - Light
The results, published in the journal ACS Nano, cast new light on how cartilage is able to withstand the demanding mechanical environment of the joint and may eventually help to explain why cartilage breaks down with ageing or arthritis.
Dr Himadri Gupta, from QMUL's School of Engineering and Materials Science, said: "Pain and reduced mobility due to joint diseases currently affects over 8 million people in the UK, the majority of these aged over 65. With increasing life expectancy, understanding how to ensure healthy ageing is extremely important."
Co-author - Professor - Martin - Knight - Response
Co-author, Professor Martin Knight, added: "The response of collagen to physical forces is critical to the function of cartilage in our joints and therefore understanding this behaviour may help us develop new strategies to prevent cartilage degradation."
Articular cartilage lines the end of our bones and helps our joints move with minimal friction. It also protects the bones by cushioning the forces in our joints when we walk, run or jump.
Disorders - Osteoarthritis
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