© 2008 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 27:347–352, 2009

Single high‐energy impact load causes posttraumatic OA in young rabbits via a decrease in cellular metabolism

Joseph Borrelli Jr. Matthew J. Silva Melissa A. Zaegel Carl Franz Linda J. Sandell

Articular cartilage deterioration commonly occurs following traumatic joint injury. Patients with posttraumatic osteoarthritis (PTA) experience pain and stiffness in the involved joint causing limited mobility and function. The mechanism by which PTA occurs has not been fully delineated. The goal of this study was to determine if a single high‐energy impact load could cause the development of PTA in 3‐month‐old NZ White rabbits. Each rabbit underwent the application of a single, rapid, high‐energy impact load to the posterior aspect of their right medial femoral condyle using a previously validated mechanism. At regular intervals (0, 1, 6 months) the injured cartilage was harvested and analyzed for the presence of PTA. Each specimen was assessed histologically for cell and tissue morphology and chondrocyte metabolism, including BMP‐2 production and synthesis of extracellular matrix (type II procollagen mRNA). Cartilage from the contralateral sham limb, as well as uninjured cartilage from the experimental limb served as internal controls for each animal. Significant changes were found in the morphology of the cartilage including proteoglycan loss along with decreased BMP‐2 and type II procollagen mRNA staining. These findings confirm that a single high‐energy impact load can cause the development of PTA by disrupting the extracellular matrix and by causing a decrease in chondrocyte metabolism.

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