Examination of osteoarthritis and subchondral bone alterations within the stifle joint of an ovariectomised ovine model.
The exact relationship between osteoporosis and osteoarthritis is still a matter for debate for many. The ovariectomised ewe is frequently used as a model for osteoporosis, resulting in significant alterations in bone morphometry and turnover in both trabecular and subchondral bone after 1 year. This study examines whether ovariectomy has any impact on development of osteoarthritis within the ovine stifle joint at the same time point. In addition, we investigate whether there are any significant correlations present between articular cartilage degeneration and alterations in microstructural parameters or turnover rates in the underlying bone. Twenty-two sheep were examined in this study; 10 of the sheep underwent ovariectomy and 12 were kept as controls. Five distinctive fluorochrome dyes were administered intravenously at 12-week intervals to both groups, to label sites of bone turnover. All animals were then sacrificed 12 months postoperatively. Although most specimens showed some evidence of osteoarthritis, no measurable difference between the two study groups was detected. Osteoarthritis was associated with a thinning of the subchondral plate, specifically the subchondral cortical bone; however, whereas previous studies have suggested a link between trabecular thinning and osteoarthritis, this was not confirmed. No correlation was found between osteoarthritis and bone turnover rates of either the subchondral trabecular bone or bone plate. In conclusion, despite the fact that ovariectomy results in marked morphological and structural changes in the ovine stifle joint at 1-year postoperatively, no evidence was found to suggest that it plays a direct role in the aetiology of osteoarthritis.