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Bone Joint Res. 2014 Jun;3(6):203-11. doi: 10.1302/2046-3758.36.2000244.

Characterisation of osteoarthritis in a small animal model of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

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  • 1University of California, 4150 Clement Street Surgery 112, San Francisco, California 94121, USA.
  • 2University of California, 500 Parnassus Ave MU320w, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.



Our objective in this article is to test the hypothesis that type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a factor in the onset and progression of osteoarthritis, and to characterise the quality of the articular cartilage in an appropriate rat model.


T2DM rats were obtained from the UC Davis group and compared with control Lewis rats. The diabetic rats were sacrificed at ages from six to 12 months, while control rats were sacrificed at six months only. Osteoarthritis severity was determined via histology in four knee quadrants using the OARSI scoring guide. Immunohistochemical staining was also performed as a secondary form of osteoarthritic analysis.


T2DM rats had higher mean osteoarthritis scores than the control rats in each of the four areas that were analysed. However, only the results at the medial and lateral femur and medial tibia were significant. Cysts were also found in T2DM rats at the junction of the articular cartilage and subchondral bone. Immunohistochemical analysis does not show an increase in collagen II between control and T2DM rats. Mass comparisons also showed a significant relationship between mass and osteoarthritis score.


T2DM was found to cause global degeneration in the UCD rat knee joints, suggesting that diabetes itself is a factor in the onset and progression of osteoarthritis. The immunohistochemistry stains showed little to no change in collagen II degeneration between T2DM and control rats. Overall, it seems that the animal model used is pertinent to future studies of T2DM in the development and progression of osteoarthritis. Cite this article: Bone Joint Res 2014;3:203-11.

©2014 The British Editorial Society of Bone & Joint Surgery.


Articular Cartilage; Histology; Immunohistochemistry; Knee; Osteoarthritis; Type 2 Diabetes-Mellitus

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