Synovial and cartilage responsiveness to peri-operative hyaluronic acid ± dexamethasone administration following a limited injury to the rabbit stifle joint

J Orthop Res. 2022 Apr;40(4):838-845. doi: 10.1002/jor.25108. Epub 2021 Jun 8.


Posttraumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) can develop after an injury to the knee. Previous studies have indicated that an intra-articular (IA) injection of the potent glucocorticoid dexamethasone (DEX) may significantly prevent induction of PTOA. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effectiveness of a single IA injection of hyaluronic acid (HA), alone and in combination with DEX following a localized intra-articular injury as a PTOA-preventing treatment option. An established rabbit model of surgical injury consisting of dual intra-articular (IA) drill holes in a non-cartilaginous area of the femoral notch near the origin of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) to allow for bleeding into the joint space was used. Immediately following surgery, subjects were treated with HA, HA + DEX, or received no treatment. An uninjured control group was used for comparison (N = 5/group). Rabbits were sacrificed and investigated at 9 weeks post-injury. At 9 weeks post-injury, there was a significant protective capacity of the single IA treatment of DEX + HA on the histological grade of the synovial tissue, and some variable location-specific effects of HA alone and HA + DEX interactions on cartilage damage. Thus, it is possible that co-treatment with HA may interfere with the effectiveness of the DEX. In vitro friction testing indicated that DEX did not interfere with the lubricating ability of HA or synovial fluid on cartilage. These results suggest that a single IA administration of HA in combination with DEX following an IA injury is not recommended for inhibition of PTOA progression in this model.

Keywords: dexamethasone; hyaluronic acid; posttraumatic osteoarthritis; preclinical model.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cartilage / pathology
  • Cartilage, Articular* / pathology
  • Dexamethasone
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronic Acid / pharmacology
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Knee Joint / pathology
  • Osteoarthritis* / pathology
  • Rabbits
  • Stifle / pathology
  • Stifle / surgery


  • Dexamethasone
  • Hyaluronic Acid