Objective—To determine whether stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) concentrations in serum, plasma, and synovial fluid differed among untrained, race-trained, and osteochondral-injured Thoroughbred racehorses.
Animals—22 racehorses without osteochondral injury and 37 racehorses with osteochondral injury.
Procedures—Horses without osteochondral injury were examined before and after 5 to 6 months of race training. Horses with osteochondral injury were undergoing arthroscopic surgery for removal of osteochondral fragments from carpal or metacarpophalangeal or metatarsophalangeal joints (fetlock joints). Serum, plasma, and fetlock or carpal synovial fluid samples were obtained and analyzed for SDF-1 concentration by use of an ELISA.
Results—In horses with fetlock or carpal joint injury, mean synovial fluid SDF-1 concentrations were significantly higher, serum SDF-1 concentrations were significantly lower, and synovial fluid-to-serum SDF-1 ratios were significantly higher than in untrained and trained horses. Synovial fluid SDF-1 concentrations were not significantly different between trained and untrained horses. Plasma SDF-1 concentrations were not different among the 3 groups. Results obtained with serum, compared with synovial fluid and plasma, had better sensitivity for differentiating between osteochondral-injured horses and uninjured horses. In horses with fetlock joint osteochondral injury, serum SDF-1 concentrations were correlated with radiographic and arthroscopic inflammation scores, but not arthroscopic cartilage scores.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that serum SDF-1 concentrations were more sensitive than plasma and synovial fluid concentrations for detection of osteochondral injury in the fetlock or carpal joint of racehorses. Analysis of serum and synovial SDF-1 concentrations in horses with experimentally induced joint injury may help define the onset and progression of post-traumatic osteoarthritis and aid in the evaluation of anti-inflammatory treatments.