Cartilage degeneration is the main pathological component of knee osteoarthritis (OA), but no effective treatment for its control exists. Although exercise can inhibit OA, the abnormal joint movement with knee OA must be managed to perform exercise. Our aims were to determine how controlling abnormal joint movement and treadmill exercise can suppress cartilage degeneration, to analyze the tissues surrounding articular cartilage, and to clarify the effect of treatment. Twelve-week-old ICR mice (n = 24) underwent anterior cruciate ligament transection (ACL-T) surgery on their right knees and were divided into three groups as follows: ACL-T, animals in the walking group subjected to ACL-T; controlled abnormal joint movement (CAJM), and CAJM with exercise (CAJM + Ex) (n = 8/group). Walking-group animals were subjected to treadmill exercise 6 weeks after surgery, including walking for 18 m/min, 30 min/day, 3 days/week for 8 weeks. Safranin-O staining, hematoxylin-eosin staining, and immunohistochemical staining were performed. The OARSI (Osteoarthritis research Society international) score was lower in the CAJM group than in the ACL-T group and was even lower in the CAJM + Ex group. The CAJM group had a lower meniscal injury score than the ACL-T group, and the CAJM + Ex group demonstrated a less severe synovitis than the ACL-T and CAJM groups. The observed difference in the perichondrium tissue damage score depending on the intervention method suggests different therapeutic effects, that normalizing joint motion can solve local problems in the knee joint, and that the anti-inflammatory effect of treadmill exercise can suppress cartilage degeneration.
Keywords: anterior cruciate ligament; cartilage degeneration; controlled abnormal joint movement; osteoarthritis; treadmill exercise.