Multinuclear NMR and microscopic MRI studies of the articular cartilage nanostructure

Hadassah Shinar, Gil Navon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studies of the structure of articular cartilage by a number of NMR spectroscopic and imaging techniques are reviewed. Advantage is taken of the fact that the NMR investigations can be done non-invasively on the intact tissue and do not require sectioning, slicing and decalcification as in the case of electron microscopy. The different contributions to 1H T2 relaxation are described and it is pointed out that ignoring the biexponential behavior of the transverse relaxation can lead to serious errors in the proton density measurements and the T2 characterization of the articular cartilage. A way to slow the transverse relaxation and to minimize its angular dependence by the use of dipolar echo is described. 2H double quantum filtered spectroscopic MRI is a powerful technique to follow the orientation and density of the collagen fibers in articular cartilage. Using this technique, it was found that attachment of the cartilage to the bone has a stabilizing effect on the collagen matrix and that the hydroxyapatite in the calcified zone resides near the collagen fibers but does not contribute to their order. In response to mechanical pressure, it was shown that the collagen fibers flatten near the surface and become crimped near the bone. A number of NMR techniques have been described for the measurement of 23Na residual quadrupolar interaction. It was found that this can serve as a very sensitive measure of the depletion of proteoglycans. Finally, a combination of the above techniques was used to study a maturation of articular cartilage in pigs. The increased order and density of the collagen fibers from newborn to adult pigs revealed itself as a shortening of T2 and significant increase of the residual quadrupolar interaction of both 2H and 23Na nuclei.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)877-893
Number of pages17
JournalNMR in Biomedicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 2006


  • Articular cartilage
  • H
  • HT relaxation rates
  • Multiple quantum methods
  • Na
  • Spectroscopic magnetic resonance imaging


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