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13-06-2018 | Osteoarthritis | Review | Article

Molecular transport in articular cartilage — what have we learned from the past 50 years?

Nature Reviews Rheumatology

Authors: Chris D. DiDomenico, Marianne Lintz, Lawrence J. Bonassar

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group UK


Developing therapeutic molecules that target chondrocytes and locally produced inflammatory factors within arthritic cartilage is an active area of investigation. The extensive studies that have been conducted over the past 50 years have enabled the accurate prediction and reliable optimization of the transport of a wide variety of molecules into cartilage. In this Review, the factors that can be used to tune the transport kinetics of therapeutics are summarized. Overall, the most crucial factor when designing new therapeutic molecules is solute size. The diffusivity and partition coefficient of a solute both decrease with increasing solute size as indicated by molecular mass or by hydrodynamic radius. Surprisingly, despite having an effective pore size of ~6 nm, molecules of ~16 nm radius can diffuse through the cartilage matrix. Alteration of the shape or charge of a solute and the application of physiological loading to cartilage can be used to predictably improve solute transport kinetics, and this knowledge can be used to improve the development of therapeutic agents for osteoarthritis that target the cartilage.

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