Early cartilage degradation in osteochondral systems is poorly understood. In early osteoarthritis (OA), new theories point out the involvement of subchondral bone structural and mechanical changes. In the intervertebral disc (IVD), the hyaline cartilage adjacent to the subchondral bone shows the first signs of ageing and numerical explorations at UPF have pointed out that specific subchondral bone structures might induce above-average fluid velocities in the adjacent cartilage. Thanks to the coupling of continuum tissue models and cell biology models, the BMMB team has recently demonstrated that early degradation of the IVD osteochondral layer is likely to result in the propagation of degenerative changes in the center of the disc.
Accordingly, this project will explore new common paradigms of early OA and IVD degeneration processes through mechanistic modelling of the relationships among tissue interstitial fluid flow, chondrocyte mechanostimulation, inflammation and cartilage extracellular matrix turnover. It will involve the exploitation of existing finite element poromechanical models to determine the load conditions, and multiscale agent-based and network modelling of chondrocyte mechanotransduction and biological activity in different physical and biochemical environments. Model assessment will be achieved through experimental data on articular cartilage biology and multiphysics in OA patients, though a collaborative project with the Hospital del Mar.
Supervision: Jérôme Noailly, Maria Segarra-Queralt, Sofia Tseranidou, Janet Piñero (IMIM)