Objectives: This study investigates the long-term changes of the periarticular bone, including cancellous bone and the subchondral plate, in an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)-transected cat for post-traumatic osteoarthritis (OA). These periarticular bone changes are related to the health of all knee tissues including articular cartilage degeneration and may be a key component of osteoarthritic development.
Methods: Thirteen cats (mean mass 4.9+/-1.9 kg) were divided into three experimental groups: (1) normal controls, (2) 16 week, and (3) 5 year post unilateral ACL-transection (ACLT). Micro-computed tomography was used to scan the three-dimensional (3D) bone architecture of the proximal tibia, and analysis was performed on the subchondral plate and cancellous bone in the epiphyseal and metaphyseal regions of each bone.
Results: A decrease in cancellous bone mass (BV/TV) and subchondral plate thickness (Ct.Th) was observed 16 week post-ACLT, and the trend was statistically significant for the long-term animals (>5 year post-ACLT: BV/TV decreased 16.8%, P<0.003; Ct.Th decreased 36.8%, P<0.03). A decrease in bone mass was also observed as a function of animal age by comparing the young and aged normal control animals, however ACLT intensified those changes, particularly Ct.Th (P<0.009) and anisotropy (P<0.045). It was speculated that decreased internal joint loading despite normal kinematics may play an important role in the long-term reduction of cancellous bone volume and subchondral plate thinning.
Conclusions: The periarticular bone changes measured in this study were concurrent with articular cartilage degeneration, and suggest that bone may be a contributing factor in the aetiology of post-traumatic OA development.