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Racial differences in biochemical knee cartilage composition between African-American and Caucasian-American women with 3 T MR-based T2 relaxation time measurements – data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative

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To determine whether knee cartilage composition differs between African-American and Caucasian-American women at risk for Osteoarthritis (OA) using in vivo 3 T MRI T2 relaxation time measurements.


Right knee MRI studies of 200 subjects (100 African-American women, and 100 closely matched Caucasian-American women) were selected from the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI). Knee cartilage was segmented in the patellar (PAT), medial and lateral femoral (MF/LF), and medial and lateral tibial compartments (MT/LT)). Mean T2 relaxation time values per compartment and per whole joint cartilage were generated and analyzed spatially via laminar and grey-level co-occurrence matrix (GLCM) texture methods. Presence and severity of cartilage lesions per compartment were graded using a modified WORMS grading. Statistical analysis employed paired t- and McNemar testing.


While African-American women and Caucasian-Americans had similar WORMS cartilage lesion scores (P = 0.970), African-Americans showed significantly lower mean T2 values (∼1 ms difference; ∼0.5SD) than Caucasian-Americans in the whole knee cartilage (P < 0.001), and in the subcompartments (LF: P = 0.001, MF: P < 0.001, LT: P = 0.019, MT: P = 0.001) and particularly in the superficial cartilage layer (whole cartilage: P < 0.001, LF: P < 0.001, MF: P < 0.001, LT: P = 0.003, MT: P < 0.001). T2 texture parameters were also significantly lower in the whole joint cartilage of African-Americans than in Caucasian-Americans (variance: P = 0.001; contrast: P = 0.018). In analyses limited to matched pairs with no cartilage lesions in a given compartment, T2 values remained significantly lower in African-Americans.


Using T2 relaxation time as a biomarker for the cartilage collagen network, our findings suggest racial differences in the biochemical knee cartilage composition between African-American and Caucasian-American women.

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