During ambulation, lower-extremity joint angles and net moments influence knee joint load. It is unclear which mechanical variables most strongly correlate with acute articular cartilage (AC) catabolism in response to ambulation. Purpose: To determine which mechanical variables are most strongly correlated to acute AC catabolism, and to test the acute effect of ambulation speed on AC catabolism, while controlling for load frequency. Methods: 18 able-bodied subjects (9 male, 9 female; age = 23 ± 2 y; mass = 68.3 ± 9.6 kg; height = 1.70 ± 0.08 m) completed three separate ambulation sessions: slow (preferred walking speed), medium (+50% of walking speed), and fast (+100% of walking speed). For each session, subjects completed 4000 steps on an instrumented treadmill while ten high-speed cameras recorded synchronized video data. Various, discrete, three-dimensional joint kinematic and kinetic variables were averaged across 20 total stance phases (5 stance phases at 1000, 2000, 3000, and 4000 steps). Blood samples were collected pre-, post-, 30-min post-, and 60-min post-ambulation. Serum cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) concentration was determined using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. A stepwise multiple linear regression analysis was used to evaluate the relationships between serum COMP change and lower-extremity joint angles and moments. A mixed model ANCOVA was used to evaluate serum COMP concentration between sessions across time. Results: Peak ankle inversion, knee extension, knee abduction, hip flexion, hip extension, and hip abduction moment, and knee flexion angle at impact, explained 61.4% of the total variance in serum COMP change (p < 0.001), due to ambulation. COMP concentration increased 28%, 18%, and 5% immediately after ambulation for the running, jogging, and walking sessions, respectively. All sessions were significantly different immediately post-ambulation (p < 0.01). Conclusion: Certain lower-extremity joint mechanics are associated with acute AC catabolism, due to ambulation. Several key mechanical variables (e.g., peak knee extension, knee abduction, and hip abduction moments) explain much regarding the variance in serum COMP increase. These lower-extremity variables can be used to predict acute AC catabolism, allowing researchers and clinicians to better predict and/or understand AC catabolism. Additionally, when load frequency is controlled, increased ambulation speed acutely results in increased AC catabolism. Ambulation speed does not, however, influence serum COMP elevation duration. Joint mechanics and load frequency appear to be responsible for the magnitude of COMP increase, while duration of COMP elevation post-ambulation is dictated by load frequency.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Exercise Sciences



Date Submitted


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ambulation, mechanics, articular cartilage, COMP