Osteoarthritis and cartilage

Destabilization of the medial meniscus leads to subchondral bone defects and site-specific cartilage degeneration in an experimental rat model.

PMID 24857975


This study aimed to investigate subchondral bone changes using micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) and regional differences in articular cartilage degeneration, focusing on changes of cartilage covered by menisci, in the early phase using a destabilization of the medial meniscus (DMM) model. The DMM model was created as an experimental rat osteoarthritis (OA) model (12 weeks old; n = 24). At 1, 2, and 4 weeks after surgery, the rats were sacrificed, and knee joints were scanned using a Micro-CT system. Histological sections of the medial tibial plateau, which was divided into inner, middle, and outer regions, were prepared and scored using the modified OARSI scoring system. The cartilage thickness was also calculated, and matrix metalloproteinase 13 (MMP13), Col2-3/4c, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression was assessed immunohistochemically. Subchondral bone defects were observed in the middle region, in which the cartilage thickness decreased over time after surgery, and these defects were filled with MMP13- and VEGF-expressing fibrous tissue. The OARSI score increased over time in the middle region, and the score was significantly higher in the middle region than in the inner and outer regions at 1, 2, and 4 weeks after surgery. Col2-3/4c and MMP13 expression was observed primarily in the meniscus-covered outer region, in which the cartilage thickness increased over time. Loss of meniscal function caused cartilage degeneration and subchondral bone defects in the early phase site-specifically in the middle region. Furthermore, our results might indicate cartilage covered by menisci is easily degraded resulting in osmotic swelling of the cartilage in early OA.