Mechanically stimulated biomarkers signal cartilage changes over 5 years consistent with disease progression in medial knee osteoarthritis patientsConstance R. Chu Shikha Sheth Jennifer C. Erhart‐Hledik Bao Do Matthew R. Titchenal Thomas P. Andriacchi
Using serum biomarkers to assess osteoarthritis (OA) disease state and risks of progression remain challenging. This study tested the hypothesis that changes to serum biomarkers in response to a mechanical stimulus in patients with medial knee OA signal cartilage thickness changes 5 years later. Specifically, serum concentrations of a collagen degradation marker (C1,2C) and a chondroitin sulfate synthesis marker (CS846) were measured 0.5 and 5.5 hours after a 30‐min walk in 16 patients. Regional cartilage thickness changes measured from magnetic resonance images obtained at study entry and at 5‐year follow‐up were tested for correlations with baseline biomarker changes after mechanical stimulus, and for differences between groups stratified based on whether biomarker levels increased or decreased. Results showed that an increase in the degradation biomarker C1,2C correlated with cartilage thinning of the lateral tibia (R = −0.63, p = 0.009), whereas an increase in the synthesis marker CS846 correlated with cartilage thickening of the lateral femur (R = 0.76, p = 0.001). Changes in C1,2C and CS846 were correlated (R2 = 0.28, p = 0.037). Subjects with increased C1,2C had greater (p = 0.05) medial tibial cartilage thinning than those with decreased C1,2C. In conclusion, the mechanical stimulus appeared to metabolically link the biomarker responses where biomarker increases signaled more active OA disease states. The findings of medial cartilage thinning for patients with increases in the degradation marker and correlation of cartilage thickening in the less involved lateral femur with increases in the synthetic marker were consistent with progression of medial compartment OA. Thus, the mechanical stimulus facilitated assessing OA disease states using serum biomarkers.