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Effects of Hyaluronan Molecular Weight on the Lubrication of Cartilage-Emulating Boundary Layers.

ABSTRACT: Osteoarthritic joints contain lower-molecular-weight (MW) hyaluronan (hyaluronic acid, HA) than healthy joints. To understand the relevance of this HA size effect for joint lubrication, the friction and surface structure of cartilage-emulating surfaces with HA of different MWs were studied using a surface force balance (SFB) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). Gelatin (gel)-covered mica surfaces were coated with high-MW HA (HHA), medium-MW HA (MHA), or low-MW HA (LHA), and lipids of hydrogenated soy l-?-phosphatidylcholine (HSPC) in the form of small unilamellar vesicles, using a layer-by-layer assembly method. SFB results indicate that the gel-HHA-HSPC boundary layer provides very efficient lubrication, attributed to hydration lubrication at the phosphocholine headgroups exposed by the HA-attached lipids, with friction coefficients (COF) as low as 10-3-10-4 at contact stresses at least up to P = 120 atm. However, for the gel-MHA-HSPC and gel-LHA-HSPC surfaces, the friction, initially low, increases sharply at much lower pressures (up to 30-60 atm at most). This higher friction with the shorter chains may be due to their weaker total adhesion energy to the gelatin, where the attraction between the negatively charged HA and the weakly positively charged gelatin is attributed largely to counterion-release entropy. Thus, the complexes of LHA and MHA with the lubricating HSPC lipids are more easily removed by shear during sliding, especially at high stresses, than the HHA-HSPC complex, which is strongly adhered to gelatin. This is ultimately the reason for lower-pressure lubrication breakdown with the shorter polysaccharides. Our results provide molecular-level insight into why the decrease in HA molecular weight in osteoarthritic joints may be associated with higher friction at the articular cartilage surface, and may have relevance for treatments of osteoarthritis involving intra-articular HA injections.


PROVIDER: S-EPMC7556541 | BioStudies | 2020-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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