A comparative analysis of bone and cartilage metabolism in two strains of guinea-pig with varying degrees of naturally occurring osteoarthritis

J L Huebner, M A Hanes, B Beekman, J M TeKoppele, V B Kraus
Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 2002, 10 (10): 758-67

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the interaction of bone and cartilage in knee osteoarthritis (OA) pathogenesis in two guinea-pig strains with appreciable differences in bone metabolism.

DESIGN: Two guinea-pig strains were evaluated for their susceptibilities to OA using semi-quantitative histological grading of knee joints and quantification of biomarkers including urinary excretion of hydroxylysyl-pyridinoline (HP) and lysyl-pyridinoline (LP) collagen cross-links, serum osteocalcin (OC), and synovial fluid levels of keratan sulfate (KS).

RESULTS: At 12 months of age, Strain 13 guinea-pigs had minimal to mild histological evidence of OA compared to the Hartley strain guinea-pigs. The Hartley strain, with more severe OA, had a higher rate of bone formation (serum osteocalcin) and bone resorption (HP and LP) evident at a young age with persistence of a greater rate of bone formation at 12 months of age. The Strain 13 possessed much thicker subchondral bone at the outset (2 months) compared to the Hartley; however, the Hartley strain showed the greatest increase in subchondral bone thickness coincident with the development of cartilage degeneration. Thus, the process of subchondral bone thickening, in contrast to the absolute initial subchondral bone thickness, was a hallmark of OA in the guinea-pig. Moreover, Strain 13 had lower intraarticular proteoglycan turnover. Levels of synovial fluid keratan sulfate were positively correlated with the severity of histological OA.

CONCLUSIONS: This pilot study represents the first evidence of differential susceptibility to OA in guinea-pigs. Comparison of these two strains of guinea-pig has revealed that increased metabolism within the affected tissues, cartilage and bone, is associated with the development and progression of OA. This work demonstrates that the Strain 13 is a viable age-matched control to the Hartley strain and merits a more in depth evaluation of the contribution of bone and bone metabolism to OA.

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