Background: Joint hemorrhage is caused by trauma, ligament reconstruction surgery, and bleeding disorders such as hemophilia. Recurrence of hemorrhage in the joint space induces hemosiderotic synovitis and oxidative stress, resulting in both articular cartilage degeneration and arthropathy. Joint immobilization is a common treatment option for articular fractures accompanied by joint hemorrhage. Although joint hemorrhage has negative effects on the articular cartilage, there is no consensus on whether a reduction in joint hemorrhage would effectively prevent articular cartilage degeneration. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of joint hemorrhage combined with joint immobilization on articular cartilage degeneration in a rat immobilized knee model. Methods: The knee joints of adult male rats were immobilized at the flexion using an internal fixator from 3 days to 8 weeks. The rats were randomly divided into the following groups: immobilized blood injection (Im-B) and immobilized-normal saline injection (Im-NS) groups. The cartilage was evaluated in two areas (contact and non-contact areas). The cartilage was used to assess chondrocyte count, Modified Mankin score, and cartilage thickness. The total RNA was extracted from the cartilage in both areas, and the expression of metalloproteinase (MMP)-8, MMP-13, interleukin (IL)-1β, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α was measured by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Results: The number of chondrocytes in the Im-B group significantly decreased in both areas, compared with that in the Im-NS group. Modified Mankin score from 4 to 8 weeks of the Im-B group was significantly higher than that of the Im-NS group only in the contact area. The expression of MMP-8 and MMP-13 from 2 to 4 weeks and TNF-α from 2 to 8 weeks significantly increased in the Im-B group compared with those in the Im-NS group, but there was no significant difference in IL-1β expression. Conclusions: The results showed that joint hemorrhage exacerbated immobilization-induced articular cartilage degeneration. Drainage of a joint hemorrhage or avoidance of loading may help prevent cartilage degeneration during joint immobilization with a hemorrhage.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine