Due to its high molecular weight and viscosity, hyaluronic acid (HA) is widely used for viscosupplementation to provide joint pain relief in osteoarthritis. However, this benefit is temporary due to poor adhesion of HA on articular surfaces. In this study, we therefore conjugated HA with dopamine to form HADN, which made the HA adhesive while retaining its viscosity enhancement capacity. We hypothesized that HADN could enhance cartilage lubrication through adsorption onto the exposed collagen type II network and repair the lamina splendens. HADN was synthesized by carbodiimide chemistry between hyaluronic acid and dopamine. Analysis of Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and Ultraviolet spectrophotometry (Uv-vis) showed that HADN was successfully synthesized. Adsorption of HADN on collagen was demonstrated using Quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation (QCM-D). Ex vivo tribological tests including measurement of coefficient of friction (COF), dynamic creep, in stance (40 N) and swing (4 N) phases of gait cycle indicated adequate protection of cartilage by HADN with higher lubrication compared to HA alone. HADN solution at the cartilage-glass sliding interface not only retains the same viscosity as HA and provides fluid film lubrication, but also ensures better boundary lubrication through adsorption. To confirm the cartilage surface protection of HADN, we visualized cartilage wear using optical coherence tomography (OCT) and atomic force microscopy (AFM).
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