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Associations between patellofemoral joint cartilage T1ρ and T2 and knee flexion moment and impulse during gait in individuals with and without patellofemoral joint osteoarthritis



This study aimed to investigate the associations between patellofemoral cartilage T1ρ and T2 relaxation times and knee flexion moment (KFM) and KFM impulse during gait.


Knee magnetic resonance (MR) images were obtained from 99 subjects with and without patellofemoral joint (PFJ) osteoarthritis (OA), using fast spin-echo, T1ρ and T2 relaxation time sequences. Patellar and trochlear cartilage relaxation times were computed for the whole cartilage, and superficial and deep layers (laminar analysis). Subjects also underwent three-dimensional (3D) gait analysis. Peak KFM and KFM impulse were calculated during the stance phase. Linear regressions were used to examine whether cartilage relaxation times were associated with knee kinetics during walking while adjusting age, sex, body mass index (BMI) and walking speed.


Higher peak KFM and KFM impulse were significantly related to higher T1ρ and T2 relaxation times of the trochlear and patellar cartilage, with standardized regression coefficients ranging from 0.21 to 0.28. Laminar analysis showed that overall the superficial layer of patellofemoral cartilage showed stronger associations with knee kinetics. Subgroup analysis revealed that in subjects with PFJ OA, every standard deviation change in knee kinetics was related to greater increases in PFJ cartilage T1ρ and T2 (standardized coefficients: 0.29 to 0.41). Conversely, in subjects without OA, weaker relationships were observed between knee kinetics and PFJ cartilage T1ρ and T2.


Our findings suggest that increased peak KFM and KFM impulse were related to worse cartilage health at the PFJ. This association is more prominent in superficial layer cartilage and cartilage with morphological lesions.

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