Chemokine receptor-7 (CCR7) deficiency leads to delayed development of joint damage and functional deficits in a murine model of osteoarthritis

J Orthop Res. 2018 Mar;36(3):864-875. doi: 10.1002/jor.23671. Epub 2017 Aug 29.


Elevated chemokine receptor Ccr7 is observed in knee osteoarthritis (OA) and associated with severity of symptoms. In this study, we confirmed that CCR7 protein expression is elevated in synovial tissue from OA patients by immunohistochemical staining. We then investigated whether Ccr7 deficiency impacted structural and functional joint degeneration utilizing a murine model of OA. OA-like disease was induced in male C57BL/6 and Ccr7-deficient (Ccr7-/- ) mice by destabilization of the medial meniscus (DMM). Functional deficits were measured by computer integrated monitoring of spontaneous activity every 4 weeks after DMM surgery up 16 weeks. Joint degeneration was evaluated at 6 and 19 weeks post-surgery by histopathology, and subchondral bone changes analyzed by microCT. Results showed reduction in locomotor activities in DMM-operated C57BL/6 mice by 8 weeks, while activity decreases in Ccr7-/- mice were delayed until 16 weeks. Histopathologic evaluation showed minimal protection from early cartilage degeneration (p = 0.06) and osteophytosis (p = 0.04) in Ccr7-/- mice 6 weeks post-DMM compared to C57BL/6 controls, but not at 19 weeks. However, subchondral bone mineral density (p = 0.03) and histologic sclerosis (p = 0.02) increased in response to surgery in C57BL/6 mice at 6 weeks, while Ccr7-/- mice were protected from these changes. Our results are the first to demonstrate a role for Ccr7 in early development of functional deficits and subchondral bone changes in the DMM model. Understanding the mechanism of Ccr7 receptor signaling in the initiation of joint pathology and disability will inform the development of innovative therapies to slow symptomatic OA development after injury. Published 2017. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA. J Orthop Res 36:864-875, 2018.

Keywords: animal model; bone remodeling; chemokines; murine behavioral analysis; osteoarthritis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Menisci, Tibial / surgery
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis / metabolism*
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology
  • Receptors, CCR7 / metabolism*
  • Synovial Membrane / metabolism*
  • Synovial Membrane / pathology


  • CCR7 protein, human
  • Ccr7 protein, mouse
  • Receptors, CCR7