Mechanically mediated joint degeneration and cartilage dyshomeostasis is implicated in highly prevalent diseases such as osteoarthritis. Increasingly, MicroRNAs are being associated with maintaining the normal state of cartilage, making them an exciting and potentially key contributor to joint health and disease onset. Here, we present a summary of current in vitro and in vivo models which can be used to study the role of mechanical load and MicroRNAs in joint degeneration, including: non-invasive murine models of PTOA, surgical models which involve ligament transection, and unloading models based around immobilisation of joints or removal of load from the joint through suspension. We also discuss how zebrafish could be used to advance this field, namely through the availability of transgenic lines relevant to cartilage homeostasis and the ability to accurately map strain through the cartilage, enabling the response of downstream MicroRNA targets to be followed dynamically at a cellular level in areas of high and low strain.
Keywords: Cartilage; Joints; Loading; MicroRNA; Osteoarthritis; Zebrafish.