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Mechanical injury is the most important risk factor in osteoarthritis (OA) development. Although once considered a passive disease of mechanical attrition, injury drives active mechanosensitive intracellular signalling which affects the structural and symptomatic course of disease. Mechanosensitive signalling in cartilage has been elucidated over the years and two principal responses emerge: those that cause the release of growth factors from the matrix and which stimulate repair, and those that drive inflammatory signalling, a process that we have termed "mechanoflammation". The up-stream activator of mechanoflammation remains unknown, but it results in rapid activation of NFkB and the inflammatory mitogen activated protein (MAP) kinases and this controls the bioavailability of aggrecanase and regulation of nerve growth factor (NGF), causing pain. The precise relationship between mechanoflammation and cartilage repair is currently unclear but it is likely that chronic mechanoflammation will contribute to disease by also suppressing intrinisic tissue repair.

Original publication




Journal article


Semin arthritis rheum

Publication Date





S36 - S38


Animals, Cartilage, Articular, Humans, Osteoarthritis, Signal Transduction, Stress, Mechanical