Objective: To study the short and long term effects of radiosynovectomy on articular cartilage in growing and mature rabbits.
Methods: The articular cartilage of the distal femurs of rabbits was examined four days, two months, and one year after radiosynovectomy with holmium-166 ferric hydroxide macroaggregate ([166Ho]FHMA). Arthritic changes were evaluated from histological sections by conventional and polarised light microscopy, and glycosaminoglycan measurements using safranin O staining, digital densitometry, and uronic acid determination. Proteoglycan synthesis was studied by metabolic sulphate labelling followed by autoradiography, and electrophoretic analysis of extracted proteoglycans. Northern analyses were performed to determine the mRNA levels of type II collagen, aggrecan, and Sox9 in cartilage samples.
Results: Radiosynovectomy had no major effect on the histological appearance of articular cartilage in mature rabbits, whereas more fibrillation was seen in [166Ho]FHMA radiosynovectomised knee joints of growing rabbits two months after treatment, but not after one year. Radiosynovectomy did not cause changes in the glycosaminoglycan content of cartilage or in the synthesis or chemical structure of proteoglycans. No radiosynovectomy related changes were seen in the mRNA levels of type II collagen, whereas a transient down regulation of aggrecan and Sox9 mRNA levels was seen in young rabbits two months after [166Ho]FHMA radiosynovectomy.
Conclusions: [166Ho]FHMA radiosynovectomy caused no obvious chondrocyte damage or osteoarthritic changes in mature rabbits, but in growing rabbits some transient radiation induced effects were seen—for example, mild cartilage fibrillation and down regulation of cartilage-specific genes.
- articular cartilage
- GAGs, glycosaminoglycans
- [166Ho] FHMA, holmium-166 ferric hydroxide macroaggregate
- IM, intramuscularly
- MEM, minimum essential medium
- SDS, sodium dodecyl sulphate
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