Animal models of osteoarthritis (OA) are essential tools for investigating the development of the disease on a more rapid timeline than human OA. Mice are particularly useful due to the plethora of genetically modified or inbred mouse strains available. The majority of available mouse models of OA use a joint injury or other acute insult to initiate joint degeneration, representing post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA). However, no consensus exists on which injury methods are most translatable to human OA. Currently, surgical injury methods are most commonly used for studies of OA in mice; however, these methods may have confounding effects due to the surgical/invasive injury procedure itself, rather than the targeted joint injury. Non-invasive injury methods avoid this complication by mechanically inducing a joint injury externally, without breaking the skin or disrupting the joint. In this regard, non-invasive injury models may be crucial for investigating early adaptive processes initiated at the time of injury, and may be more representative of human OA in which injury is induced mechanically. A small number of non-invasive mouse models of PTOA have been described within the last few years, including intra-articular fracture of tibial subchondral bone, cyclic tibial compression loading of articular cartilage, and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture via tibial compression overload. This review describes the methods used to induce joint injury in each of these non-invasive models, and presents the findings of studies utilizing these models. Altogether, these non-invasive mouse models represent a unique and important spectrum of animal models for studying different aspects of PTOA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1627-1638
Number of pages12
JournalOsteoarthritis and Cartilage
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Articular cartilage
  • Knee injury
  • Mouse model
  • Post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA)


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