Effects of Aging and Dietary Restriction on the Structural Integrity of Rat Articular Cartilage

K. A. Athanasiou, C. F. Zhu, X. Wang, C. M. Agrawal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The objectives of this study were to investigate the effects of aging and diet restriction on the biomechanical properties of articular cartilage, using a well-controlled rat model (Fischer 344). This animal model is recommended by the National Institute of Aging specifically to study aging and diet issues. The intrinsic biomechanical properties of articular cartilage were obtained using a creep indentation approach. The ages chosen (6, 12, 18, 24 months of age) correspond to approximate human ages of 20 to 80 years old. The diet regimen employed in this study used either an ad libitum fed group or a group fed 60% of the mean food intake of the ad libitum group. The results demonstrate that, unlike bone, rat articular cartilage biomechanical properties are not affected in a discernible manner by diet restriction, despite the fact that diet-restricted animals were significantly lighter in terms of body weight. Age effects on biomechanical properties are found only at 6 and 12 months probably due to developmental reasons, but not at later ages. It appears that aging and diet restriction have profoundly different effects on articular cartilage and bone. Another significant result of this study was to establish the rat as a suitable animal model to study cartilage biomechanical properties. Thus, the rat can be added to the list of animals that can be used to study structure-function and pathophysiological relationships in articular cartilage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-149
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000


  • Aging
  • Articular cartilage biomechanics
  • Creep indentation
  • Diet
  • Mechanical properties
  • Rat cartilage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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