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Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2009 Apr;17(4):441-7. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2008.09.009. Epub 2008 Nov 5.

Correlation between the MR T2 value at 4.7 T and relative water content in articular cartilage in experimental osteoarthritis induced by ACL transection.

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Department of Radiology, Tri-Service General Hospital and National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China.



Both animal and human studies using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) show that cartilage degeneration increases the T2 value. However, it is unclear whether the T2 value correlates linearly with water content in cartilage with osteoarthritis. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between the T2 value and water content using an animal model of cartilage injury measured at 4.7 T.


Thirty Sprague Dawley rats were randomly separated into three groups (n=10 for each group). Group 1 rats were not operated on (control). Group 2 rats received a sham operation, and group 3 rats received an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) transection. Six rats of each group were randomly assigned to T2 measurement and later subjected to ex vivo analysis of the relative water content of the knee cartilage. The other four rats in each group were killed, and the severity of cartilage degeneration was examined histologically. The knees of the six rats in the ACL transection group were imaged sequentially 4 and 13 weeks after ACL transection, and the relative water content was measured at 13 weeks.


The cartilage T2 value was significantly higher 4 and 13 weeks after ACL transection in the operated knees than in the knees of the control and sham groups. The cartilage T2 value was significantly higher at 13 weeks than at 4 weeks in the operated knees. The T2 value was strongly positively correlated with the relative water content (R=0.885, P<0.0001).


The trend of changes in the T2 values is consistent with an increase in the relative water content in our cartilage degeneration model. This model has potential use for the clinical evaluation of osteoarthritis.

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