Advanced glycation end-product accumulation differs by location and sex in aged osteoarthritic human menisci

Published:December 06, 2022DOI:



      There is a clear link between increasing age and meniscus degeneration, leading to increased injury, osteoarthritis (OA) progression, and often total knee replacement. Advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) are non-enzymatic crosslinks and adducts that accumulate in collagen with age, altering tissue mechanics and cell function, ultimately leading to increased injury and inflammation. AGEs, both fluorescent and non-fluorescent, play a central role in age-related degradation of tissues throughout the body; however, little is known about their role in meniscus degeneration. The objective of this study was to characterize changes in aged OA menisci, specifically evaluating zonal AGE accumulation, to gain a better understanding of changes that may lead to age-related meniscal degeneration.


      Deidentified human menisci (N = 48, 52–84 years old) were obtained from subjects undergoing total knee replacement. Changes in extracellular matrix (ECM) were assessed by gross morphology, confocal analysis, and biochemical assays. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), glycosaminoglycan (GAG), collagen, and AGE accumulation were compared with patient age, zonal region, and patient sex.


      There were minimal changes in DNA, GAG, and collagen concentration with age or zone. However, collagen fraying and AGEs increased with age, with more AGEs accumulating in the meniscal horns compared to the central body and in male menisci compared to females.


      Overall, this work provides greater insights into regional changes that occur in human menisci with age and OA. These results suggest AGEs may play a role in the degeneration of the meniscus, with AGEs being a possible target to reduce age-related tears, degeneration, and OA progression.



      AGE (Advanced glycation end-product), GAG (Glycosaminoglycan), BMI (Body mass index), ECM (Extracellular matrix)
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