Journal of Orthopaedic Research Volume 38, Issue 3 p. 609-619

Attenuation of Post‐Traumatic Osteoarthritis After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Via Inhibition of Hedgehog Signaling

Shinichiro Takada Eiichiro Nakamura Ken Sabanai Manabu Tsukamoto Hajime Otomo Shinkichi Kanoh Teppei Murai Hokuto Fukuda Yasuaki Okada Soshi Uchida Akinori Sakai

We aimed to investigate whether post‐traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) progression is appropriately represented by a PTOA mouse model using a unique climbing cage to add mechanical loading after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) transection and to determine how Hedgehog signaling inhibition prevents PTOA progression by observing time‐dependent morphological changes. This controlled laboratory study histologically compared mice with surgically‐induced ACL transection (ACLT) and those with voluntary increased activity in a climbing cage from 1 week postoperatively (ACLT + climbing). We generated conditional knockout (cKO) mice with a deleted Smoothened (Smo) gene. Time‐dependent histopathological, immunohistochemical, and gene expression analyses were performed. The ACLT + climbing group showed more severe cartilage defects and massive osteophyte formation than the ACLT group. Smo deletion significantly suppressed PTOA progression. The time‐dependent assessment revealed cartilaginous processes of equivalent size at the posterior tibial margin in the Smo cKO and control mice at 4 weeks postoperatively. However, at 8 weeks postoperatively, mature ossifying lesions were detected in the controls but not in Smo cKO mice. In the articular cartilage, ADAMTS5 and RUNX2 expression were observed in hypertrophic chondrocytes near the defective cartilage in controls but not in Smo cKO mice. Climbing exercise after ACLT accelerated PTOA progression more severely not only through increasing joint instability induced by ACLT but also through mechanical loading force induced by climbing exercise. Hedgehog signaling inhibition attenuated PTOA progression by suppressing chondrocyte hypertrophy induced by mechanical loads, to which ACL‐deficient athletes are usually exposed. Thus, Hedgehog signaling inhibition may be a therapeutic option to prevent arthritic changes in athletes. © 2019 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 38:609–619, 2020

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