Structural, compositional, and functional effects of blunt and sharp cartilage damage on the joint: a 9-month equine groove model study
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CitationTe Moller, Nikae CR. Mohammadi, Ali. Plomp, Saskia. Serra Bragança, Filipe M. Beukers, Martijn. Pouran, Behdad. Afara, Isaac O. Nippolainen, Ervin. Mäkelä, Janne TA. Korhonen, Rami K. Töyräs, Juha. Brommer, Harold. René van Weeren, P. (2020). Structural, compositional, and functional effects of blunt and sharp cartilage damage on the joint: a 9-month equine groove model study. Journal of orthopaedic research, [Published online 24 Dec 2020], 10.1002/jor.24971.
This study aimed to quantify the long‐term progression of blunt and sharp cartilage defects and their effect on joint homeostasis and function of the equine carpus. In nine adult Shetland ponies, the cartilage in the radiocarpal and middle carpal joint of one front limb was grooved (blunt or sharp randomized). The ponies were subjected to an 8‐week exercise protocol and euthanized at 39 weeks. Structural and compositional alterations in joint tissues were evaluated in vivo using serial radiographs, synovial biopsies, and synovial fluid samples. Joint function was monitored by quantitative gait analysis. Macroscopic, microscopic, and biomechanical evaluation of the cartilage and assessment of subchondral bone parameters were performed ex vivo. Grooved cartilage showed higher OARSI microscopy scores than the contra‐lateral sham‐operated controls (p < 0.0001). Blunt‐grooved cartilage scored higher than sharp‐grooved cartilage (p = 0.007) and fixed charge density around these grooves was lower (p = 0.006). Equilibrium and instantaneous moduli trended lower in grooved cartilage than their controls (significant for radiocarpal joints). Changes in other tissues included a threefold to sevenfold change in interleukin‐6 expression in synovium from grooved joints at week 23 (p = 0.042) and an increased CPII/C2C ratio in synovial fluid extracted from blunt‐grooved joints at week 35 (p = 0.010). Gait analysis outcome revealed mild, gradually increasing lameness. In conclusion, blunt and, to a lesser extent, sharp grooves in combination with a period of moderate exercise, lead to mild degeneration in equine carpal cartilage over a 9‐month period, but the effect on overall joint health remains limited.