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Calcium ions have a detrimental impact on the boundary lubrication property of hyaluronic acid and lubricin (PRG-4) both alone and in combination

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posted on 2024-02-08, 03:53 authored by Mingyu HanMingyu Han, Matthew J Russo, Pauline E Desroches, Saimon Moraes SilvaSaimon Moraes Silva, Anita F Quigley, Robert MI Kapsa, Simon E Moulton, George Greene IVGeorge Greene IV
Cartilage demineralisation in Osteoarthritis (OA) patients can elevate calcium ion levels in synovial fluid, as evidenced by the prevalence of precipitated calcium phosphate crystals in OA synovial fluid. Although it has been reported that there is a potential connection between elevated concentrations of calcium ions and a deterioration in the lubrication and wear resistance of cartilage tissues, the mechanism behind the strong link between calcium ion concentration and decreased lubrication performance is unclear. In this work, the AFM friction, imaging, and normal force distance measurements were used to investigate the lubrication performances of hyaluronic acid (HA), Lubricin (LUB), and HA-LUB complex in the presence of calcium ions (5 mM, 15 mM, and 30 mM), to understand the possible mechanism behind the change of lubrication property. The results of AFM friction measurements suggest that introducing calcium ions to the environment effectively eliminated the lubrication ability of HA and HA-LUB, especially with relatively low loading applied. The AFM images indicate that it is unlikely that structural or morphological changes in the surface-bound layer upon calcium ions addition are primarily responsible for the friction results demonstrated. Further, the poor correlation between the effect of calcium ions on the adhesion forces and its impact on friction suggests that the decrease in the lubricating ability of both layers is likely a result of changes in the hydration of the HA-LUB surface bound layers than changes in intermolecular or intramolecular binding. This work provides the first experimental evidence lending towards the relationship between bone demineralisation and articular cartilage degradation at the onset of OA and the mechanism through which elevated calcium levels in the synovial fluid act on joint lubrication.


We acknowledge the financial support from the Australian Research Council in the Discovery Project (DP180102287).


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Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces



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/© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

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