Objective—To investigate the effects of exercise and osteochondral injury on concentrations of carboxy-terminal telopeptide fragments of type II collagen (CTX-II) in synovial fluid (SF) and serum of Thoroughbred racehorses and to compare findings with radiographic and arthroscopic scores of joint injury severity.
Animals—78 Thoroughbreds with (n = 38) and without (40) osteochondral injury.
Procedures—Serum and metacarpophalangeal or carpal joint SF samples were collected from noninjured horses before and at the end of 5 to 6 months of race training (pre- and postexercise samples, respectively) and from horses with osteochondral injury (1 joint assessed/horse). Synovial fluid and serum CTX-II concentrations were determined by use of an ELISA. Radiographic and arthroscopic scores of joint injury severity were determined for the injured horses.
Results—The CTX-II concentrations in SF and SF:serum CTX-II ratio were significantly higher for horses with joint injuries, compared with pre- and postexercise findings in noninjured horses. Serum CTX-II concentrations in postexercise and injured-horse samples were significantly lower than values in pre-exercise samples. On the basis of serum and SF CTX-II concentrations and SF:serum CTX-II ratio, 64% to 93% of serum and SF samples were correctly classified into their appropriate group (pre-exercise, postexercise, or injured-joint samples). In horses with joint injuries, arthroscopic scores were positively correlated with radiographic scores, but neither score correlated with SF or serum CTX-II concentration.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that serum and SF CTX-II concentrations and SF:serum CTX-II ratio may be used to detect cartilage degradation in horses with joint injury.