Objective(s): Meniscectomy (MX) of sheep induces a well-established animal model of human osteoarthritis (OA). This study compared the clinical (lameness) and pathological outcomes of unilateral, complete medial MX vs two less traumatic and more easily performed meniscal destabilisation procedures.
Methods: Four-year old wethers (n = 6/group) underwent sham operation, cranial pole release (CPR), mid-body transection (MBT) or total MX of the medial meniscus. Joints were assessed for gross pathology (cartilage erosion and osteophytes), histomorphometry, two histopathology scoring methods (modified Mankin-type and Pritzker score), and immunohistology for ADAMTS- and MMP-cleaved neoepitopes, at 12 weeks post-op. Ground reaction forces (GRFs) were determined by force plate in a subset (n = 4/group) at baseline, 2.5, 8, and 12 weeks post-op.
Results: Gross pathology scores of operated groups differed significantly from sham animals (P < 0.05) but not from each other, though qualitative differences were noted: CPR sheep developed more cranial and focal lesions, while MBT and MX joints showed more widespread lesions and osteophyte formation. Similarly, histopathology scores were significantly elevated vs sham but did not differ between operated groups at P < 0.05, except for a trend for lower tibial cartilage histopathology in MBT consistent with the immunohistologic pattern of reduced aggrecanase-cleavage neoepitope in that model. CPR sheep developed less femoral subchondral sclerosis, suggesting some residual biomechanical effect from the destabilised but intact meniscus. Few significant differences were noted between operated groups in force plate analyses, though gait abnormalities appeared to be least in CPR sheep, and most persistent (>12 weeks) in MBT animals.
Conclusion: The well-validated ovine MX model and the simpler meniscal destabilisation procedures resulted in broadly similar joint pathology and lameness. Meniscal CPR or MBT, as easier and more clinically relevant procedures, may represent preferred models for the induction of OA and evaluation of potential disease-modifying therapies.
Copyright © 2012 Osteoarthritis Research Society International. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.