To examine the sensitivity of ultra-short echo time (UTE) T(2)* mapping to collagen matrix degeneration in human articular cartilage.Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) UTE-T(2)* maps and standard T(2) maps were acquired on four human tibial plateau explants. Thirty-three osteochondral cores were harvested for polarized light microscopy (PLM), and composition analyses. Collagen matrix integrity was evaluated from PLM and histological images. Matrix integrity and composition was compared to standard T(2) values and UTE-T(2)* values on a spatially registered basis.UTE-T(2)* values varied with matrix degeneration (P=0.008) and were lower in severely degraded cartilage compared to healthy tissue (P=0.012). A trend for higher UTE-T(2)* values in healthy tissue compared to mildly degenerate tissue (P=0.051) was detected. Standard T(2) values were not found to vary with matrix degeneration (P=0.13) but tended to be higher in severely degraded cartilage compared to healthy tissue. UTE-T(2)* value variations were independent of type-II collagen and glycosaminoglycan contents. UTE-T(2)* mapping of deep cartilage, adjacent to subchondral bone, was more robust than standard T(2) mapping in this zone.UTE-T(2)* mapping of articular cartilage is sensitive to matrix degeneration and detects short-T(2) signal, particularly in deep tissue, that is not well captured by standard T(2) mapping. Correlation of UTE-T(2)* values and PLM indices supports the hypothesis that both may be sensitive to collagen microstructure. Further exploration of UTE-T(2)* mapping as a non-invasive tool to detect early articular cartilage degeneration is warranted.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.joca.2010.02.001
View details for PubMedID 20170769