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Real-time Visualization of the Effects of Cyclic and Static Loading on Healthy and Pathological Cartilage Mechanical and Structural Properties

The metabolic activity of articular cartilage and other connective tissues is regulated by mechanical loading. While dynamic loading typically promotes biosynthetic activity and improves mechanical properties, immobilization and static loads inhibit anabolic activity and are detrimental to tissue function. These load-induced changes are mediated in part by cellular deformations induced by tissue-level strains. Osteoarthritis is characterized by reduced matrix synthesis and increased matrix degradation, resulting in pain and loss of mobility. However, it is not known how the sensitivity of cartilage to ameliorative and detrimental loading regimens is impacted by this disease.