, Volume 101, Issue 4, pp 351–354 | Cite as

Horses and cows might teach us about human knees

  • C. Holland
  • F. VollrathEmail author
  • H. S. Gill
Short Communication


Our comparative study of the knees of horses and cows (paraphrased as highly evolved joggers and as domesticated couch-potatoes, respectively) demonstrates significant differences in the posterior sections of bovine and equine tibial cartilage, which are consistent with specialisation for gait. These insights were possible using a novel analytical measuring technique based on the shearing of small biopsy samples, called dynamic shear analysis. We assert that this technique could provide a powerful new tool to precisely quantify the pathology of osteoarthritis for the medical field.


Dynamic shear analysis Osteoarthritis Cartilage 



We thank the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research (FA9550-09-1-0111), Magdalen College Oxford, the European Research Council (SP2-GA-2008-233409), NIHR Biomedical Research Unit into Musculoskeletal Disease, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre and University of Oxford for funding.


  1. Appleyard RC, Burkhardt D, Ghosh P, Read R, Cake M, Swain MV, Murrell GAC (2003) Topographical analysis of the structural, biochemical and dynamic biomechanical properties of cartilage in an ovine model of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthr Cartil 11(1):65–77PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brama PA, TeKoppele JM, Bank RA, van Weeren PR, Barneveld A (1999) Influence of site and age on biochemical characteristics of the collagen network of articular cartilage. Am J Vet Res 60:341–345PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Brommer H, van Weeren PR, Brama PA, Barneveld A (2003) Quantification and age-related distribution of articular cartilage degeneration in the equine fetlock joint. Equine Vet J 35:697–701PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chaudhury S, Holland C, Vollrath F, Carr AJ (2011) Comparing normal and torn rotator cuff tendons using dynamic shear analysis. J Bone Joint Surg Br 93-B(7):942–948. doi: 10.1302/0301-620x.93b7.25741 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Desmeules F, Dionne CE, Belzile E, Bourbonnais R, Fremont P (2010) The burden of wait for knee replacement surgery: effects on pain, function and health-related quality of life at the time of surgery. Rheumatology (Oxford) 49(5):945–954CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Felson DT, Zhang Y, Hannan MT, Naimark A, Weissman B, Aliabadi P, Levy D (1997) Risk factors for incident radiographic knee osteoarthritis in the elderly: the Framingham Study. Arthritis Rheum 40(4):728–733PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gulati A, Chau R, Beard DJ, Price AJ, Gill HS, Murray DW (2009) Localization of the full-thickness cartilage lesions in medial and lateral unicompartmental knee osteoarthritis. J Orthop Res 27(10):1339–1346PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gupta S, Hawker GA, Laporte A, Croxford R, Coyte PC (2005) The economic burden of disabling hip and knee osteoarthritis (OA) from the perspective of individuals living with this condition. Rheumatology (Oxford) 44(12):1531–1537CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Muraki S, Akune T, Oka H, En-yo Y, Yoshida M, Saika A, Suzuki T, Yoshida H, Ishibashi H, Tokimura F, Yamamoto S, Nakamura K, Kawaguchi H, Yoshimura N (2010) Association of radiographic and symptomatic knee osteoarthritis with health-related quality of life in a population-based cohort study in Japan: the ROAD study. Osteoarthr Cartil 18(9):1227–1234PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Pough FH, Heiser JB, McFarland WN (1989) Vertebrate life, 3rd edn. MacMillan Publishing Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. Southwood R (2003) The story of life, 1st edn. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  12. Taylor CR (1985) Force development during sustained locomotion: a determinant of gait, speed and metabolic power. J Exp Biol 115(1):253–262PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Warner SE, Pickering P, Panagiotopoulou O, Pfau T, Ren L, Hutchinson JR (2013) Size-related changes in foot impact mechanics in hoofed mammals. PLoS ONE 8(1):e54784PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. White SH, Ludkowski PF, Goodfellow JW (1991) Anteromedial osteoarthritis of the knee. J Bone Joint Surg 73-B(4):582–586Google Scholar
  15. Young AA, Appleyard RC, Smith MM, Melrose J, Little CB (2007) Dynamic biomechanics correlate with histopathology in human tibial cartilage: a preliminary study. Clin Orthop Relat Res 462:212–220. doi: 10.1097/BLO.0b013e318076b431 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Department of Materials Science and EngineeringUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  3. 3.Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal SciencesUniversity of Oxford, Nuffield Orthopaedic CentreOxfordUK
  4. 4.Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of BathBathUK

Personalised recommendations