Functional cartilage MRI T2 mapping: evaluating the effect of age and training on knee cartilage response to running

Timothy Mosher, Y. Liu, C. M. Torok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


Objective: To characterize effects of age and physical activity level on cartilage thickness and T2 response immediately after running. Design: Institutional review board approval was obtained and all subjects provided informed consent prior to study participation. Cartilage thickness and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) T2 values of 22 marathon runners and 15 sedentary controls were compared before and after 30 min of running. Runner and control groups were stratified by age ≤ 45 and ≥46 years. Multi-echo [(Time to Repetition (TR)/Time to Echo (TE) 1500 ms/9-109 ms)] MR images obtained using a 3.0 T scanner were used to calculate thickness and T2 values from the central femoral and tibial cartilage. Baseline cartilage T2 values, and change in cartilage thickness and T2 values after running were compared between the four groups using one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). Results: After running MRI T2 values decreased in superficial femoral (2 ms-4 ms) and tibial (1 ms-3 ms) cartilage along with a decrease in cartilage thickness: (femoral: 4%-8%, tibial: 0%-12%). Smaller decrease in cartilage T2 values were observed in the middle zone of cartilage, and no change was observed in the deepest layer. There was no difference cartilage deformation or T2 response to running as a function of age or level of physical activity. Conclusions: Running results in a measurable decrease in cartilage thickness and MRI T2 values of superficial cartilage consistent with greater compressibility of the superficial cartilage layer. Age and level of physical activity did not alter the T2 response to running.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)358-364
Number of pages7
JournalOsteoarthritis and Cartilage
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rheumatology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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