Obesity, one of the major problems in modern society, adversely affects people's health and increases the risk of suffering degeneration in supportive tissues such as cartilage, which loses its ability to support and distribute loads. However, no specific research regarding obesity-associated alterations in the mechano-electrochemical cartilage environment has been developed. Such studies could help us to understand the first signs of cartilage degeneration when body weight increases and to establish preventive treatments to avoid cartilage deterioration. In this work, a previous mechano-electrochemical computational model has been further developed and employed to analyze and quantify the effects of obesity on the articular cartilage of the femoral hip. A comparison between the obtained results of the healthy and osteoarthritic cartilage has been made. It shows that behavioral patterns of cartilage, such as ion fluxes and cation distribution, have considerable similarities with those obtained for the early stages of osteoarthritis. Thus, an increment in the outgoing ion fluxes is produced, resulting in lower cation concentrations in all the cartilage layers. These results suggest that people with obesity, i.e. a body mass index greater than 30 kg/m2, should undergo preventive treatments for osteoarthritis to avoid homeostatic alterations and, subsequent, tissue deterioration.
Manzano, S., Doblaré, M., & Doweidar, M. H. (2016). Altered mechano-electrochemical behavior of articular cartilage in populations with obesity. Applied Sciences (Switzerland), 6(7), 1–13. https://doi.org/10.3390/app6070186