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Thirty days after anterior cruciate ligament transection is sufficient to induce signs of knee osteoarthritis in rats: pain, functional impairment, and synovial inflammation

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To compare the unilateral signs of knee osteoarthritis (KOA) 30 and 60 days after anterior cruciate ligament transection (ACLT). Pain, gait function, synovial fluid inflammation, and histopathological changes in the synovial membrane were analyzed, as well as the interaction between the variables.

Materials and methods

Male Wistar rats (n = 32; 219.2 ± 18.6 g) were randomly distributed into four groups of eight animals each. Two groups were submitted to unilateral ACLT surgery to induce KOA and analyzed after 30 (KOA30) and 60 days (KOA60). Two control groups (without surgery) were also assessed after the same time periods (C30 and C60). All the groups were evaluated before ACLT from the least to most stressful tests (skin temperature, mechanical response threshold, gait test, thermal response threshold, and joint swelling), as well as 30 and 60 days after surgery. After euthanasia, the synovial fluid and synovial membrane were collected.


Thirty days after ACLT, KOA30 showed decrease paw print area and mechanical response threshold, higher joint swelling, skin temperature, leukocyte count, cytokine levels, and synovitis score. No differences were found between KOA30 and KOA60.


Our data showed that 30 days after ACLT is sufficient to induce signs of KOA in rats, such as pain, functional impairment, and synovial inflammation, suggesting that a shorter time period can be used as an experimental model.

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The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided for this study through research grants from the Brazilian Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq, 155210/2016-1 and 302169/2018-0); São Paulo State Research Support Foundation (FAPESP, Proc. 2016/24666-6 and 2015/26567-2); and Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES, Finance Code 001).


The funds for these studies were obtained from public granting agencies such as CNPq (Proc. 155211/2016-1; 302169/2018-0); FAPESP (Proc. 2016/24666-6 and 2015/26567-2); and by CAPES (Finance Code 001). The authors state that there were no private sponsors for this study.

Author information

Study conception and design: GMB, TFS, JEC, TMC; Data acquisition: GMB, JEC, PATSC, and FFBO; Data analysis and interpretation: GMB, TFS, JEC, TLR, FSR, TMC, FQC; Drafting of the manuscript: GMB, TFS, TMC, TLR and FSR; Critical revisions: all authors. Final approval of the article: all authors. Obtaining funding: TFS, TMC and FQC. Responsibility for the integrity of the work as a whole (

Correspondence to Tania F. Salvini.

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The authors declare that there are no competing interests.

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All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed (Animal Ethics Committee of the Federal University of São Carlos, n°7949291116/2017).

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Barbosa, G.M., Cunha, J.E., Russo, T.L. et al. Thirty days after anterior cruciate ligament transection is sufficient to induce signs of knee osteoarthritis in rats: pain, functional impairment, and synovial inflammation. Inflamm. Res. 69, 279–288 (2020).

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  • Musculoskeletal disease
  • Synovitis
  • Inflammation mediators
  • Knee injury
  • Gait analysis