We investigated the spectrum of lesions characteristic of post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) across the knee joint in response to mechanical injury. We hypothesized that alteration in knee joint stability in mice reproduces molecular and structural features of PTOA that would suggest potential therapeutic targets in humans. The right knees of eight-week old male mice from two recombinant inbred lines (LGXSM-6 and LGXSM-33) were subjected to axial tibial compression. Three separate loading magnitudes were applied: 6N, 9N, and 12N. Left knees served as non-loaded controls. Mice were sacrificed at 5, 9, 14, 28, and 56 days post-loading and whole knee joint changes were assessed by histology, immunostaining, micro-CT, and magnetic resonance imaging. We observed that tibial compression disrupted joint stability by rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament (except for 6N) and instigated a cascade of temporal and topographical features of PTOA. These features included cartilage extracellular matrix loss without proteoglycan replacement, chondrocyte apoptosis at day 5, synovitis present at day 14, osteophytes, ectopic calcification, and meniscus pathology. These findings provide a plausible model and a whole-joint approach for how joint injury in humans leads to PTOA. Chondrocyte apoptosis, synovitis, and ectopic calcification appear to be targets for potential therapeutic intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number45223
JournalScientific reports
StatePublished - Mar 27 2017


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