Abstract OBJECTIVE: The pathogenesis of osteoarthritis (OA) includes cartilage degeneration, synovial inflammation, and bone changes. Slowly, the sequence and inter-relationship of these features is becoming clearer. Early models of OA suggest thinning of the subchondral plate in addition to trabecular bone changes. In the present study subchondral bone changes were studied in the canine anterior cruciate ligament transection (ACLT)-meniscectomy model. This model is characterized by intra-joint variability with respect to cartilage damage (predominantly medial) and loading (lateral unloading due to a shifted axis). METHODS: In 13 Labrador dogs, OA was induced by transection of the anterior cruciate ligament and removal of the medial meniscus. Twelve weeks later, cartilage integrity was evaluated histologically using the modified Mankin score (0-11), and proteoglycan content was determined by Alcian Blue assay. Bone architecture of the tibia was quantified by micro-CT. RESULTS: Cartilage damage was severe in the medial compartment (Mankin score +3.5, glycosaminoglycan (GAG) content -28%) and mild in the lateral compartment (Mankin score +1.6, GAG content -15%). Thinning and porosity of the subchondral plate were only present on the medial side (-21%, +87%, respectively). Interestingly, changes in trabecular bone structure did almost not occur in the medial compartment (volume fraction -7%) but were clear in the lateral compartment (-20%). CONCLUSION: Thinning of the subchondral plate is a localized phenomenon related to cartilage degeneration while trabecular bone changes are related to mechanical (un)loading. The different mechanisms responsible for bone changes in OA should be taken in account when designing and interpreting studies interfering with bone turnover in the treatment of OA.

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Keywords Animals, Anterior Cruciate Ligament/surgery, Cartilage, Articular/chemistry/*pathology/surgery, Disease Models, Animal, Dogs, Experimental, Glycosaminoglycans/analysis, Knee Joint/*pathology, Loading, Menisci, Tibial/surgery, Osteoarthritis, Knee/*pathology, Subchondral plate, Tomography, X-Ray Computed/methods, Trabecular bone
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.joca.2010.01.004, hdl.handle.net/1765/20707
Intema, F., Hazewinkel, H.A.W., Gouwens, D., Bijlsma, J.W.J., Weinans, H.H., Lafeber, F.P.J.G., & Mastbergen, S.C.. (2010). In early OA, thinning of the subchondral plate is directly related to cartilage damage: results from a canine ACLT-meniscectomy model. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 18(5), 691–698. doi:10.1016/j.joca.2010.01.004