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To evaluate the effects of a gene transfer approach to IL-1β inhibition in an equine osteochondral chip fragment model of joint injury using a self-complementary adeno-associated virus with interleukin receptor antagonist transgene cassette (scAAVIL-1ra), as posttraumatic osteoarthritis in horses, similar to people, is a significant clinical problem.


16 horses were utilized for the study.


All horses had an osteochondral chip fragment induced arthroscopically in one middle carpal joint while the contralateral joint was sham operated. Eight horses received either scAAVIL-1ra or saline in the osteoarthritis joint. Horses were evaluated over 70 days clinically (lameness, imaging, and biomarker analysis) and euthanized at 70 days and evaluated grossly, with imaging and histopathology.


The following findings were statistically significant. Injection of scAAVIL-1ra resulted in high synovial fluid levels of IL-1ra (0.5 to 9 μg/mL) throughout the duration of the experiment (70 days). Over the duration, we observed scAAVIL-1ra to improve lameness (lameness score relative improvement of 1.2 on a scale of 0 to 5), cause suppression of prostaglandin E2 (a relative decline of 30 pg/mL), and result in histological improvement in articular cartilage (decreased chondrocyte loss and chondrone formation) and subchondral bone (less osteochondral splitting and osteochondral lesions). Within the synovial membrane of scAAVIL-1ra–treated joints, we also observed perivascular infiltration with CD3-positive WBCs, suggesting lymphocytic T-cell perivascular infiltration commonly observed with viral transduction.


These data provide support for further evaluation and optimization of scAAVIL-1ra gene therapy to treat equine osteoarthritis.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association