DESIGN: Forty-two Sprague Dawley rats were divided into 2 groups: the ACLT group and the nonoperated control group. Surgery was conducted on the ACLT group, and subsequently rats from both groups were sacrificed at 1, 2, and 3 weeks postsurgery. Subchondral bone was evaluated using a high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography scanner, while cartilage was histologically evaluated and scored.
RESULTS: A significant reduction in the subchondral trabecular bone thickness and spacing was found as early as 1 week postsurgery in ACLT rats compared with the nonoperated control. This was subsequently followed by a reduction in bone mineral density and bone fractional volume at week 2, and finally a decrease in the trabecular number at week 3. These changes occurred together with cartilage degeneration as reflected by an increasing Mankin score over all 3 weeks.
CONCLUSIONS: Significant changes in subchondral bone occur very early in OA concurrent with surface articular cartilage degenerative change suggest that factors affecting bone remodeling and resorption together with cartilage matrix degradation occur very early in the disease.