Superficial cartilage transverse relaxation time is associat
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Researchers aimed to study whether layer-specific cartilage transverse relaxation time (T2), and/or longitudinal change is associated with clinically relevant knee osteoarthritis (OA) disease progression.

The FNIH biomarker consortium was a nested case-control trial that looked at 600 knees from 600 participants in the Osteoarthritis Initiative. At 2448 months from baseline (n=194), progressor knees had both medial tibiofemoral radiographic joint space width (JSW) loss (more than 0.7 mm) and a persistent rise in WOMAC pain (more than 9 on a 0100 scale).

Multi-echo spin-echo (MESE) MRIs for cartilage T2 analysis had been acquired in the right knees only (97 progressor knees). These were compared to 104 control knees without JSW or pain progression. 53 knees had JSW progression, and 57 pain progression only. Cartilage thickness segmentations obtained from DESS MRI were matched to MESE MRI, to extract superficial and deep femorotibial cartilage T2. Superficial medial femorotibial compartment (MFTC) T2 at baseline was the primary, and change in deep MFTC T2 between baseline and 12 months the secondary analytic outcome of this post-hoc exploratory study.

--Baseline superficial MFTC T2 was significantly elevated in progressor knees and JSW progression only knees, respectively, vs non-progressor knees (45.8ms) after adjustment for age, sex, BMI, WOMAC pain, and medial JSN grade (ANCOVA).
--Change in T2 was not significantly associated with case status.

Conclusively, Baseline superficial, but not deep, medial cartilage T2 is associated with clinically relevant disease progression in knee OA.