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Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2011 Oct;19(10):1228-36. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2011.07.003. Epub 2011 Jul 23.

Improving subchondral bone integrity reduces progression of cartilage damage in experimental osteoarthritis preceded by osteoporosis.

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  • 1Bone and Joint Research Unit, Service of Rheumatology, IIS Fundación Jiménez Díaz, Universidad Autónoma, Madrid, Spain.



Impairment of subchondral bone density and quality aggravates cartilage damage in osteoarthritis (OA). Accordingly, we assessed whether improving microstructure and quality at subchondral bone by the bone-forming agent parathyroid hormone (PTH) [1-34] prevent cartilage damage progression in a rabbit model of OA preceded by osteoporosis (OP).


OP was induced in 20 female rabbits. At week 7, these rabbits underwent knee surgery to induce OA and, at week 12, they started either saline vehicle (n=10) or PTH (n=10) for 10 weeks. Ten healthy animals were used as controls. At week 22, microstructure was assessed by micro-computed tomography and bone remodelling by protein expression of alkaline phosphatase (ALP), metalloproteinase-9 (MMP9), osteoprotegerin (OPG) and receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL) at subchondral bone. Cartilage damage was evaluated using Mankin score.


PTH reversed the decrease of bone area/tissue area, trabecular thickness, plate thickness, polar moment of inertia, ALP expression and OPG/RANKL ratio, as well as counteracted the increase of fractal dimension and MMP9 expression at subchondral bone of osteoarthritis preceded by osteoporosis (OPOA) rabbits compared to vehicle administration (P<0.05). Likewise, PTH decreased cartilage damage severity in OPOA rabbits. Good correlations were observed between subchondral bone structure or remodelling parameters, and cartilage Mankin score.


Improvement of microstructural and remodelling parameters at subchondral bone by PTH [1-34] contributed to prevent cartilage damage progression in rabbits with early OPOA. These findings support the role of subchondral bone in OA. Further studies are warranted to establish the place of bone-forming agents as potential treatment in OA.

Copyright © 2011 Osteoarthritis Research Society International. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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