Chondroitin sulfate reduces the friction coefficient of articular cartilage

Ines M. Basalo, Nadeen O. Chahine, Michael Kaplun, Faye H. Chen, Clark T. Hung, Gerard A. Ateshian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of chondroitin sulfate (CS)-C on the frictional response of bovine articular cartilage. The main hypothesis is that CS decreases the friction coefficient of articular cartilage. Corollary hypotheses are that viscosity and osmotic pressure are not the mechanisms that mediate the reduction in the friction coefficient by CS. In Experiment 1, bovine articular cartilage samples (n=29) were tested in either phosphate buffered saline (PBS) or in PBS containing 100 mg/ml of CS following 48 h incubation in PBS or in PBS+100 mg/ml CS (control specimens were not subjected to any incubation). In Experiment 2, samples (n=23) were tested in four different solutions: PBS, PBS+100 mg/ml CS, and PBS+polyethylene glycol (PEG) (133 or 170 mg/ml). In Experiment 3, samples (n=18) were tested in three solutions of CS (0, 10 and 100 mg/ml). Frictional tests (cartilage-on-glass) were performed under constant stress (0.5 MPa) for 3600 s and the time-dependent friction coefficient was measured. Samples incubated or tested in a 100 mg/ml CS solution exhibited a significantly lower equilibrium friction coefficient than the respective PBS control. PEG solutions delayed the rise in the friction coefficient relative to the PBS control, but did not reduce the equilibrium value. Testing in PBS+10 mg/ml of CS did not cause any significant decrease in the friction coefficient. In conclusion, CS at a concentration of 100 mg/ml significantly reduces the friction coefficient of bovine articular cartilage and this mechanism is neither mediated by viscosity nor osmolarity. These results suggest that direct injection of CS into the joint may provide beneficial tribological effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1847-1854
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2007


  • Cartilage
  • Chondroitin sulfate
  • Friction
  • Osteoarthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation


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