Decreased bone tissue mineralization can partly explain subchondral sclerosis observed in osteoarthritis

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Abstract

For many years, pharmaceutical therapies for osteoarthritis (OA) were focused on cartilage. However, it has been theorized that bone changes such as increased bone volume fraction and decreased bone matrix mineralization may play an important role in the initiation and pathogenesis of OA as well. The mechanisms behind the bone changes are subject of debate, and a better understanding may help in the development of bone-targeting OA therapies. In the literature, the increase in bone volume fraction has been hypothesized to result from mechanoregulated bone adaptation in response to decreased mineralization. Furthermore, both changes in bone volume fraction and mineralization have been reported to be highest close to the cartilage, and bone volume fraction has been reported to be correlated with cartilage degeneration. These data indicate that cartilage degeneration, bone volume fraction, and bone matrix mineralization may be related in OA. In the current study, we aimed to investigate the relationships between cartilage degeneration, bone matrix mineralization and bone volume fraction at a local level. With microCT, we determined bone matrix mineralization and bone volume fraction as a function of distance from the cartilage in osteochondral plugs from human OA tibia plateaus with varying degrees of cartilage degeneration. In addition, we evaluated whether mechanoregulated bone adaptation in response to decreased bone matrix mineralization may be responsible for the increase in bone volume fraction observed in OA. For this purpose, we used the experimentally obtained mineralization data as input for bone adaptation simulations. We simulated the effect of mechanoregulated bone adaptation in response to different degrees of mineralization, and compared the simulation results to the experimental data. We found that local changes in subchondral bone mineralization and bone volume fraction only occurred underneath severely degenerated cartilage, indicating that bone mineralization and volume fraction are related to cartilage degeneration at a local level. In addition, both the experimental data and the simulations indicated that a depth-dependent increase in bone volume fraction could be caused by decreased bone matrix mineralization. However, a quantitative comparison showed that decreased mineralization can only explain part of the subchondral sclerosis observed in OA. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1151-1162
JournalBone
Volume50
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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