Effects of non-enzymatic glycation on the micro- and nano-mechanics of articular cartilage

Parisa R. Moshtagh*, Nicoline M. Korthagen, Mattie H.P. van Rijen, Rene M. Castelein, Amir A. Zadpoor, Harrie Weinans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The mechanical properties of articular cartilage depend on the quality of its matrix, which consists of collagens and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). The accumulation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) can greatly affect the mechanics of cartilage. In the current study, we simulated the accumulation of AGEs by using L-threose to cross-link collagen molecules in the cartilage matrix (in vitro). The resulting changes in the mechanical properties (stiffness) of cartilage are then measured both at the micrometer-scale (using micro-indenter) and nanometer-scale (using indentation-type atomic force microscopy). Non-enzymatic cross-linking within the cartilage matrix was confirmed by the browning of L-threose-treated samples. We observed > 3 times increase in the micro-scale stiffness and up to 12-fold increase in the nano-scale stiffness of the glycated cartilage in the peak pertaining to the collagen fibers, which is caused by cartilage network embrittlement. At the molecular level, we found that besides the collagen component, the glycation process also influenced the GAG macromolecules. Comparing cartilage samples before and after L-threose treatment revealed that artificially induced-AGEs also decelerate in vitro degradation (likely via matrix metalloproteinases), observed at both micro- and nano-scales. The combined observations suggest that non-enzymatic glycation may play multiple roles in mechanochemical functioning of articular cartilage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-556
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Advanced glycation
  • Articular cartilage
  • Micro-stiffness
  • Nano-stiffness


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of non-enzymatic glycation on the micro- and nano-mechanics of articular cartilage'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this