Objective—To determine the quantity (concentration) and quality (molecular weight) of synovial fluid hyaluronan with respect to presence and severity of osteoarthritis in stifle joints of dogs.
Animals—21 purpose-bred dogs and 6 clinically affected large-breed dogs (cranial cruciate ligament [CrCL] disease with secondary osteoarthritis).
Procedures—Research dogs underwent arthroscopic surgery in 1 stifle joint to induce osteoarthritis via CrCL transection (CrCLt; n = 5 stifle joints), femoral condylar articular cartilage groove creation (GR; 6), or meniscal release (MR; 5); 5 had sham surgery (SH) performed. Contralateral stifle joints (n = 21) were used as unoperated control joints. Synovial fluid was obtained from research dogs at time 0 and 12 weeks after surgery and from clinically affected dogs prior to surgery. All dogs were assessed for lameness, radiographic signs of osteoarthritis, and pathologic findings on arthroscopy as well as for quantity and quality of hyaluronan.
Results—Clinically affected dogs had significantly greater degrees of pathologic findings, compared with dogs with surgically induced osteoarthritis (ie, those with CrCLt, GR, and MR stifle joints), and with respect to lameness scores, radiographic signs of osteoarthritis, pathologic findings on arthroscopy, and synovial fluid hyaluronan concentration. Synovial fluid from stifle joints of dogs with surgically induced osteoarthritis had hyaluronan bands at 35 kd on western blots that synovial fluid from SH and clinically affected stifle joints did not.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Synovial fluid hyaluronan quantity and quality were altered in stifle joints of dogs with osteoarthritis, compared with control stifle joints. A specific hyaluronan protein fragment may be associated with early pathologic changes in affected joints.