Animal evidence for hyaluronic acid efficacy in knee trauma injuries. Review of animal-model studies

Phys Ther Sport. 2013 May;14(2):116-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2013.02.001. Epub 2013 Mar 16.


Introduction: Intra-articular injections of hyaluronic acid (HA) could have potential interest in therapy of acute knee trauma injuries, but few results are available in humans.

Objective: We reviewed the literature for animal studies of intra-articular HA injections after knee trauma injury to determine the interest of human clinical research into and/or use of such injections for knee trauma.

Methods: Systematic literature search on MEDLINE for studies involving animal models of osteoarthritis created by acute knee trauma injury, with HA injections beginning during the 2 weeks after injury.

Results: The search revealed 14 studies with a high methodological quality: 7 related to meniscus injury, 3 ACL injury, 1 combined ACL-meniscus injury and 3 cartilage injury. The animal models were rabbits in 10 studies. Four studies demonstrated positive effects and 3 moderate effects of intra-articular HA injection for meniscus injury; 1 positive effects and 2 no effect for ACL injury; 1 positive effects for combined ACL-meniscus injury; and 2 moderate effects and 1 no effect for cartilage injury.

Conclusions: With a high strength of recommendation, intra-articular HA injections in animal models with meniscus injury improved the healing process and/or had a protective role in articular cartilage, a slightly protective role in ACL injury animal models and low or no effect on healing in articular cartilage injury animal models.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cartilage, Articular / drug effects*
  • Cartilage, Articular / injuries
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hyaluronic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Knee Injuries / drug therapy*
  • Menisci, Tibial / drug effects
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / rehabilitation*
  • Rabbits
  • Tibial Meniscus Injuries*
  • Wound Healing / drug effects*


  • Hyaluronic Acid