Genetic correlations between cartilage regeneration and degeneration reveal an inverse relationship

M. F. Rai, J. M. Cheverud, E. J. Schmidt, L. J. Sandell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: The etiology of osteoarthritis (OA) is unknown, however, there appears to be a significant contribution from genetics. We have identified recombinant inbred strains of mice derived from LG/J (large) and SM/J (small) strains that vary significantly in their ability to repair articular cartilage and susceptibility to post-traumatic OA due to their genetic composition. Here, we report cartilage repair phenotypes in the same strains of mice in which OA susceptibility was analyzed previously, and determine the genetic correlations between phenotypes. Design: We used 12 recombinant inbred strains, including the parental strains, to test three phenotypes: ear-wound healing (n = 263), knee articular cartilage repair (n = 131), and post-traumatic OA (n = 53) induced by the surgical destabilization of the medial meniscus (DMM). Genetic correlations between various traits were calculated as Pearson's correlation coefficients of strain means. Results: We found a significant positive correlation between ear-wound healing and articular cartilage regeneration (r = 0.71; P = 0.005). We observed a strong inverse correlation between articular cartilage regeneration and susceptibility to OA based on maximum (r = −0.54; P = 0.036) and summed Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) scores (r = −0.56; P = 0.028). Synovitis was not significantly correlated with articular cartilage regeneration but was significantly positively correlated with maximum (r = 0.63; P = 0.014) and summed (r = 0.70; P = 0.005) OARSI scores. Ectopic calcification was significantly positively correlated with articular cartilage regeneration (r = 0.59; P = 0.021). Conclusions: Using recombinant inbred strains, our study allows, for the first time, the measurement of genetic correlations of regeneration phenotypes with degeneration phenotypes, characteristic of OA (cartilage degeneration, synovitis). We demonstrate that OA is positively correlated with synovitis and inversely correlated with the ability to repair cartilage. These results suggest an addition to the risk paradigm for OA from a focus on degeneration to regeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1111-1120
Number of pages10
JournalOsteoarthritis and Cartilage
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Cartilage injury
  • DMM surgery
  • Ear-wound
  • Ectopic calcification
  • LG/J
  • SM/J
  • Synovitis


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