Normally, tissue alterations in small animal models for osteoarthritis (OA) are assessed by time-consuming and destructive histology or biochemical assays. Some high resolution imaging modalities are used for longitudinal monitoring of the OA disease process in vivo. μCT is one of these imaging modalities, which is known for superb high-resolution imaging of bone architecture alterations. A major drawback of μCT is that it has low soft-tissue contrast, which makes direct imaging of cartilage impossible. The use of μCT in combination with negatively charged radiopaque contrast agents enables imaging of cartilage degeneration. We demonstrate the possibility of μCT to image cartilage degeneration as a consequence of experimental OA, by the use contrast enhanced μCT in vivo in a rat model for OA. Furthermore, for the assessment of alterations in molecular processes involved in OA we used the recently developed technique of multi pinhole SPECT. This enables us to assess molecular processes involved in experimental OA in a rat at sub-millimeter level. Here we show quantification of subchondral bone turnover in an OA rat knee. These new techniques demonstrate the possibilities of quantitative experimental OA assessment in small animal models such as mice and rats and might enable substitution of the conventional destructive methods.

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Biorheology: an international journal
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Piscaer, T., van Osch, G., Verhaar, J., & Weinans, H. (2008). Imaging of experimental osteoarthritis in small animal models. In Biorheology: an international journal (Vol. 45, pp. 355–364). doi:10.3233/BIR-2008-0482