Subchondral bone structure and synovial fluid metabolism are altered in injured and contralateral limbs 7 days after non-invasive joint injury in skeletally-mature C57BL/6 mice

Published:September 19, 2022DOI:



      Post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) commonly develops after ACL injury, but early changes to the joint soon after injury are insufficiently understood. The objectives of this study were (1) evaluate the response of subchondral bone tissue modulus to joint injury and (2) identify which bone structural, material, and metabolic outcomes are local (i.e., injured joint only) or systemic (i.e., injured and contralateral-to-injured).


      Female C57Bl∖6N mice (19 weeks at injury) underwent tibial compression overload to simulate ACL injury (n = 8) or a small pre-load (n = 8). Synovial fluid was harvested at euthanasia 7 days later for metabolomic profiling. Bone outcomes included epiphyseal and SCB microarchitecture, SCB nanoindentation modulus, SCB formation rate, and osteoclast number density.


      Injury decreased epiphyseal bone volume fraction ([-5.29, −1.38%], P = 0.0016) and decreased SCB thickness for injured vs sham-injured limbs ([2.2, 31.4 μm], P = 0.017)). Epiphyseal bone loss commonly occurred for contralateral-to-injured limbs. There was not sufficient evidence to conclude that SCB modulus changes with injury. Metabolomic analyses revealed dysregulated synovial fluid metabolism with joint injury but that many metabolic pathways are shared between injured and contralateral-to-injured limbs.


      This study demonstrates rapid changes to bone structure and synovial fluid metabolism after injury with the potential for influencing the progression to PTOA. These changes are often evidenced in the contralateral-to-injured limb, indicating that systemic musculoskeletal responses to joint injury should not be overlooked.


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