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Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2012 Apr;20(4):271-8. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2011.12.009. Epub 2012 Jan 10.

Effects of intraarticular IL1-Ra for acute anterior cruciate ligament knee injury: a randomized controlled pilot trial (NCT00332254).

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Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.



To evaluate the clinical effectiveness of intraarticular IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear.


Eleven patients with acute ACL tear confirmed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were randomized to receive a single intraarticular injection of IL-1Ra (anakinra 150 mg, n = 6) or equal volume of saline placebo (1 ml, n = 5). The double-blinded treatment was administered a mean 2 weeks after injury. Synovial fluid (SF) (n = 9 patients) and sera (all patients) were available at baseline (prior to injection) and immediately prior to surgery (mean 35 days later) and analyzed for SF IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-1Ra and serum hyaluronan (HA), an indicator of synovial inflammation. The primary outcome, standardized Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) questionnaire, was obtained at 0 (baseline), 4, and 14 days after injection.


Compared with placebo, the IL-1Ra group had substantially greater improvement in key outcomes over 14 days (KOOS pain P = 0.001; activities of daily living P = 0.0015; KOOS sports function P = 0.0026; KOOS quality of life (QOL) P = 0.0048; and total KOOS P < 0.0001). There were no adverse reactions in either group. SF IL-1α (P = 0.05) and serum HA (P = 0.03), but not IL-1β, or IL-1Ra, decreased significantly in the IL-1Ra but not the placebo treated patients. Compared with placebo, IL-1α was borderline significantly different in the IL-1Ra treated group (P = 0.06).


Administered within the first month following severe knee injury, IL-1Ra reduced knee pain and improved function over a 2-week interval. This promising proof of concept study provides a new paradigm for studies of acute joint injury and suggests that a larger follow-up study is warranted.


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