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Sci Transl Med. 2019 Sep 4;11(508). pii: eaax6775. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aax6775.

Topographic modeling of early human osteoarthritis in sheep.

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Center of Experimental Orthopaedics, Saarland University, 66421 Homburg, Germany.
Center of Experimental Orthopaedics, Saarland University, 66421 Homburg, Germany.
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Saarland University Medical Center, 66421 Homburg, Germany.


Articular cartilage damage occurring during early osteoarthritis (OA) is a key event marking the development of the disease. Here, we modeled early human OA by gathering detailed spatiotemporal data from surgically induced knee OA development in sheep. We identified a specific topographical pattern of osteochondral changes instructed by a defined meniscal injury, showing that both cartilage and subchondral bone degeneration are initiated from the region adjacent to the damage. Alterations of the subarticular spongiosa arising locally and progressing globally disturbed the correlations of cartilage with subchondral bone seen at homeostasis and were indicative of disease progression. We validated our quantitative findings against human OA, showing a similar pattern of early OA correlating with regions of meniscal loss and an analogous late critical disturbance within the entire osteochondral unit. This translational model system can be used to elucidate mechanisms of OA development and provides a roadmap for investigating regenerative therapies.

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