Objective: To query the transcript-level changes in the medial and lateral tibial plateau cartilage in tandem with obesity in patients with end-stage osteoarthritis (OA). Design: Cartilage was obtained from 23 patients (20 obese [body mass index > 30 kg/m2], 3 overweight [body mass index < 30 kg/m2]) at the time of total knee replacement. Cartilage integrity was assessed using Outerbridge scale, while radiographic changes were scored on preoperative X-rays using Kellgren-Lawrence (K-L) classification. RNA was probed for differentially expressed transcripts between medial and lateral compartments using Affymetrix Gene 2.0 ST Array and validated via real-time polymerase chain reaction. Gene ontology and pathway analyses were also queried. Results: Scoring of cartilage integrity by the Outerbridge scale indicated that the medial and lateral compartments were similar, while scoring by the K-L classification indicated that the medial compartment was more severely damaged than the lateral compartment. We observed a distinct transcript profile with >50% of transcripts unique between medial and lateral compartments. MMP13 and COL2A1 were more highly expressed in medial versus lateral compartment. Polymerase chain reaction confirmed expression of 4 differentially expressed transcripts. Numerous transcripts, biological processes, and pathways were significantly different between overweight and obese patients with a differential response of obesity on medial and lateral compartments. Conclusions: Our findings support molecular differences between medial and lateral compartments reflective of the greater severity of OA in the medial compartment. The K-L system better reflected the molecular results than did the Outerbridge. Moreover, the molecular effect of obesity was different between the medial and lateral compartments of the same knee plausibly reflecting the molecular effects of differential biomechanical loading.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-472
Number of pages15
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • Kellgren-Lawrence
  • Outerbridge
  • body mass index
  • cartilage degeneration
  • transcriptome analysis


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