MOntelukast as a potential CHondroprotective treatment following Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (MOCHA Trial): study protocol for a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial

Trials. 2022 Jan 31;23(1):98. doi: 10.1186/s13063-021-05982-3.


Background: After anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction, patient-reported outcomes are improved 10 years post-surgery; however, cytokine concentrations remain elevated years after surgery with over 80% of those with combined ACL and meniscus injuries having posttraumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) within 10-15 years. The purpose of this multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled trial is to assess whether a 6-month course of oral montelukast after ACL reconstruction reduces systemic markers of inflammation and biochemical and imaging biomarkers of cartilage degradation.

Methods: We will enroll 30 individuals undergoing primary ACL reconstruction to participate in this IRB-approved multicenter clinical trial. This trial will target those at greatest risk of a more rapid PTOA onset (age range 25-50 with concomitant meniscus injury). Patients will be randomly assigned to a group instructed to take 10 mg of montelukast daily for 6 months following ACL reconstruction or placebo. Patients will be assessed prior to surgery and 1, 6, and 12 months following surgery. To determine if montelukast alters systemic inflammation following surgery, we will compare systemic concentrations of prostaglandin E2, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, and pro-inflammatory cytokines between groups. We will also compare degradative changes on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) collected 1 and 12 months following surgery between groups with reductions in early biomarkers of cartilage degradation assessed with urinary biomarkers of type II collagen breakdown and bony remodeling.

Discussion: There is a complex interplay between the pro-inflammatory intra-articular environment, underlying bone remodeling, and progressive cartilage degradation. PTOA affects multiple tissues and appears to be more similar to rheumatoid arthritis than osteoarthritis with respect to inflammation. There is currently no treatment to delay or prevent PTOA after ACL injury. Since there is a larger and more persistent inflammatory response after ACL reconstruction than the initial insult of injury, treatment may need to be initiated after surgery, sustained over a period of time, and target multiple mechanisms in order to successfully alter the disease process. This study will assess whether a 6-month postoperative course of oral montelukast affects multiple PTOA mechanisms. Because montelukast administration can be safely sustained for long durations and offers a low-cost treatment option, should it be proven effective in the current trial, these results can be immediately incorporated into clinical practice.

Trial registration: NCT04572256 . Registered on October 1, 2020.

Keywords: Anterior cruciate ligament; Biomarker; MRI; Montelukast; Posttraumatic osteoarthritis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial Protocol

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / adverse effects
  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction* / adverse effects
  • Cyclopropanes / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Quinolines* / adverse effects
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sulfides / adverse effects


  • Acetates
  • Cyclopropanes
  • Quinolines
  • Sulfides
  • montelukast

Associated data