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Arthritis Rheum. 2008 Aug;58(8):2379-86. doi: 10.1002/art.23638.

Osteoprotegerin inhibits cartilage degradation through an effect on trabecular bone in murine experimental osteoarthritis.

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INSERM U606, Université Paris 7, Paris, France.



To characterize bone microarchitectural changes and to test the hypothesis that disrupting local cytokine equilibrium could modify cartilage degradation in a murine model of experimental osteoarthritis (OA).


Ten-week-old male C57BL/6 mice underwent medial meniscectomy of their right knees and a sham operation of their left knees. The mice received intraperitoneal injections of osteoprotegerin (OPG) (10 mg/kg), interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) (100 mg/kg), or phosphate buffered saline for 6 weeks. The microarchitecture of the trabecular bone, the OA score, and expression of ADAMTS-4 and ADAMTS-5 were assessed. Proteoglycan release was measured in cartilage explant cultures in the presence of IL-1Ra and OPG.


In the meniscectomized knees, bone volume/tissue volume (BV/TV) was lower, whereas trabecular separation, the OA score, and aggrecanase expression were higher than in the sham-operated knees. After treatment with OPG, BV/TV was significantly increased and trabecular separation was reduced in the knees that underwent meniscectomy. The OA score and the number of ADAMTS-positive cells were significantly decreased by treatment with OPG but were not affected by IL-1Ra. Moreover, OPG did not directly reduce the release of proteoglycans from cartilage explant cultures.


In an experimental model of OA, meniscectomy induced bone loss and cartilage degradation at 6 weeks. Systemic administration of OPG prevented bone and cartilage degradation in vivo but had no effect on cartilage in vitro. These data collectively indicate that bone could be a contributor in the early stages of OA pathogenesis. They further suggest that disruption of RANKL/OPG balance might result in the degradation of cartilage subjected to mechanical loading. Specific targeting of the bone cytokine network might help to prevent OA.

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