The authors review the structure and composition of articular cartilage. This tissue is composed of an extensive extracellular matrix synthesized by chondrocytes. It contains different zones with respect to depth from the articular surface and has a regional organization around the chondrocytes. Its composition varies regionally and zonally in its collagen and proteoglycan contents and those of other matrix molecules. There is a macrofibrillar collagen network and a microfilamentous network about which other noncollagenous molecules are organized. Its structure and composition are reflective of its special mechanical properties that primarily reflect its tensile strength (collagens) and compressive stiffness (proteoglycan aggrecan) and cell-matrix interactions (noncollagenous proteins).

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