, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 191-201,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 07 Feb 2013

Preliminary histopathological study of intra-articular injection of a novel highly cross-linked hyaluronic acid in a rabbit model of knee osteoarthritis

Abstract

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease mostly occurring in the knee and commonly seen in middle-aged and elderly adults. Intra-articular injection of hyaluronic acid has been widely used for treatment of knee osteoarthritis. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of intra-articular injection of a novel highly cross-linked hyaluronic acid, alone or in combination with ropivacaine hydrochloride and triamcinolone acetonide, on knee articular cartilage in a rabbit model of collagenase-induced knee osteoarthritis. After induction of experimental osteoarthritis by intra-articular injection of collagenase, adult New Zealand white rabbits (n = 12) were divided into 3 groups. Group 1 (control group) received 0.3 ml phosphate buffered saline into the right knee joint. Group 2 received 0.3 ml cross-linked hyaluronic acid (33 mg/ml) into the right knee joint. Group 3 received a mixture of 0.15 ml cross-linked hyaluronic acid (33 mg/ml), 0.05 ml ropivacaine hydrochloride 1 % and 0.1 ml triamcinolone acetonide (10 mg/ml) into the right knee joint. Intra-articular injections were given 4 weeks after first collagenase injection and were administered once a week for 3 weeks. Gross pathology and histological evaluation of rabbits’ knee joints were performed after 16 weeks following initial collagenase injection. Histological analysis of sections of right knee joints at lesion sites showed a significant decrease in Mankin’s score in groups treated with hyaluronic acid alone or in combination with ropivacaine hydrochloride and triamcinolone acetonide versus control group (p < 0.05 and p < 0.01 respectively). This evidence was consistent with strong articular degenerative changes in control right knee joints (grade III osteoarthritis), while the treated groups revealed less severe articular degenerative changes (grade II osteoarthritis). The present results show that cross-linked hyaluronic acid, alone or in combination with ropivacaine hydrochloride and triamcinolone acetonide, produces a significant improvement in knee articular cartilage degeneration in a rabbit model of collagenase-induced osteoarthritis.

The authors contributed equally to this work.