Persisting High Levels of Synovial Fluid Markers after Cartilage Repair
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Local attempts to repair a cartilage lesion could cause increased levels of anabolic and catabolic factors in the synovial fluid. After repair with regenerated cartilage, the homeostasis of the cartilage ideally would return to normal. In this pilot study, we first hypothesized levels of synovial fluid markers would be higher in patients with cartilage lesions than in patients with no cartilage lesions, and then we hypothesized the levels of synovial fluid markers would decrease after cartilage repair. We collected synovial fluid samples from 10 patients before autologous chondrocyte transplantation of the knee. One year later, a second set of samples was collected and arthroscopic evaluation of the repair site was performed. Fifteen patients undergoing knee arthroscopy for various symptoms but with no apparent cartilage lesions served as control subjects. We measured synovial fluid matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP-3) and insulinlike growth factor-I (IGF-I) concentrations with specific activity and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, respectively. The levels of MMP-3 and IGF-I were higher in patients having cartilage lesions than in control subjects with no cartilage lesions. One year after cartilage repair, the lesions were filled with repair tissue, but the levels of MMP-3 and IGF-I remained elevated, indicating either graft remodeling or early degeneration.
Level of Evidence: Level III, prognostic study. See the Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
KeywordsSynovial Fluid Cartilage Repair Cartilage Lesion Osteochondritis Dissecans Synovial Fluid Sample
We thank Hannu Kautiainen, BA, from Rheumatism Foundation Hospital, Finland, for statistical analysis and Roeland Haanemaaijer, MD, PhD, TNO Prevention and Health, Leiden, The Netherlands, for expertise in MMP-3 measurements.
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