Amino Acid Profile of Synovial Fluid Following Intra-articular Ankle Fracture

Elizabeth M. Leimer, Laura M. Tanenbaum, Dana L. Nettles, Richard D. Bell, Mark E. Easley, Lori A. Setton, Samuel B. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) is a frequent complication in patients with a previous traumatic joint injury, and the pathophysiology is not well understood. The goal of this study was to characterize the biochemical signature of amino acids, peptides, and amino acid metabolites in ankle synovial fluid following intra-articular fracture. Methods: Synovial fluid from both the injured and contralateral ankles of 19 patients with an intra-articular ankle fracture was obtained and analyzed via metabolic profiling. Follow-up analysis was performed after 6 months in 7 of these patients. Results: Statistical comparisons between injured and contralateral ankles revealed that 19 of the 66 measured amino acids, peptides, and amino acid metabolites were significantly elevated at time of fracture. Metabolites associated with glutathione metabolism exhibited the most elevated mean-fold changes, indicating a possible role for oxidative stress in fractured ankles. None of the metabolites elevated at baseline were significantly elevated after 6 months, but 6 metabolites had mean-fold changes greater than 2.1 at this time point. Multiple metabolites also exhibited significant correlations (r > 0.575) with matrix metalloproteinase-1 and -9. Conclusion: These results indicate the presence of amino acid metabolic products in the setting of ankle fracture and suggest that these changes in amino acid metabolism may be chronic and indicate a role for inflammation and collagen degradation in disease progression. Clinical Relevance: Changes in amino acid metabolism following intra-articular fracture may contribute to the progression to PTOA. This knowledge may allow for the identification and early treatment of patients at risk of developing PTOA. Level of Evidence: Level III, comparative series.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1169-1177
Number of pages9
JournalFoot and Ankle International
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • amino acids
  • ankle fracture
  • metabolic profile
  • osteoarthritis
  • synovial fluid


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