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The distribution of superficial zone protein (SZP)/lubricin/PRG4 and boundary mode frictional properties of the bovine diarthrodial joint.


The diarthrodial, knee joint is a remarkably efficient bearing system; articulating cartilage surfaces provide nearly frictionless performance with minimal wear. The low friction properties of the cartilage surfaces are due in part to the boundary lubricant, superficial zone protein (SZP); also known as lubricin or proteoglycan 4 (PRG4). In previous work, SZP localization and cartilage friction were examined across the femoral condyles. Studies in the literature have also individually investigated the other tissues that comprise the human knee and four-legged animal stifle joint, such as the meniscus or patella. However, comparisons between individual studies are limited due to the variable testing conditions employed. Friction is a system property that is dependent on the opposing articulating surface, entraining speed, and loading. A cross-comparison of the frictional properties and SZP localization across the knee/stifle joint tissues utilizing a common testing configuration is therefore needed. The objective of this investigation was to determine the friction coefficient and SZP localization of the tissues comprising the three compartments of the bovine stifle joint: patella, patellofemoral groove, femoral condyles, meniscus, tibial plateau, and anterior cruciate ligament. The boundary mode coefficient of friction was greater in tissues of the patellofemoral compartment than the lateral and medial tibiofemoral compartments. SZP immunolocalization followed this trend with reduced depth of staining and intensity in the patella and patellofemoral groove compared to the femoral condyles and tibial plateau. These results illustrate the important role of SZP in reducing friction in the tissues and compartments of the knee/stifle joint.

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