Metabolic activity of articular cartilage in osteoarthritis. An in vitro study.

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Biochemical changes and in vitro rates of glycosaminoglycan synthesis were studied in thirty-seven samples of human articular cartilage from nineteen osteoarthritic and four normal control patients who were fifty to seventy-five years old. The samples were compared on the basis of histological grade of the arthritis, and subgroups based on the duration of disease, synovial pathological changes, joint studied, and sex were also compared. The osteoarthritic samples showed a progressive loss of glycosaminoglycans in the cartilage as the histological grade increased. In the early stages of the disease there was an increase in the chondroitin sulphate content as well as in the rate of glycosaminoglycan synthesis in several cases when the values for the osteoarthritic articular-cartilage samples were compared with those for the age-matched controls. In the late stages there was a progressive decrease in the rate of glycosaminoglycan synthesis and a relative decrease in chrondroitin sulphate synthesis compared with keratan sulphate synthesis, and these decreases were highly correlated with the histological grade.

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