Rheumatology International

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 79–85 | Cite as

Effect of dehydroepiandrosterone on cartilage and synovium of knee joints with osteoarthritis in rabbits

  • Li Dong WuEmail author
  • Hua Chen Yu
  • Yan Xiong
  • Jie Feng
Original Article


The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of intra-articular injection of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on cartilage and synovium of knee joints with osteoarthritis (OA) in rabbits and the underlying mechanism. Forty rabbits underwent unilateral anterior cruciate ligament transaction and were divided into two groups. Rabbits were injected with 100 μmol/l DHEA dissolved in the dimethylsulphoxide (DMSO) in the knee joints 5 weeks after transaction, once a week for 5 weeks. Rabbits injected with DMSO under the same condition were served as a control. All rabbits were killed 1 week after the last injection. The knee joints were evaluated by gross morphology, histology, and gene expression analysis. Gross morphologic inspection and histological evaluation showed that the DHEA group appeared less damage in cartilage and synovium as compared with the control. Gene expression analysis revealed that the mRNA expression of matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP-3) in cartilage and synovium decreased significantly in the DHEA group and that of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1) increased. No significant difference of interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β) mRNA expression was found in the cartilage between two groups while the mRNA expression of IL-1β in the synovium was largely suppressed in the DHEA group. The study suggests that DHEA plays a protective role against cartilage degradation and synovium inflammation in rabbits with OA. This role may be achieved through the regulation of the MMP-3, TIMP-1, and IL-1β gene expression in the cartilage and synovium.


Dehydroepiandrosterone Osteoarthritis Matrix metalloproteinases Tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases Interleukin-1 beta 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Li Dong Wu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hua Chen Yu
    • 1
  • Yan Xiong
    • 1
  • Jie Feng
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Orthopaedics, The 2nd Hospital of Medical CollegeZhejiang UniversityHangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Bone and Joint Research Center, The 2nd Hospital of Medical CollegeZhejiang UniversityHangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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