PURPOSE: Aiming to prevent cartilage damage during early osteoarthritis (OA), the therapeutic challenge is to restore and maintain the physiological and functional properties of such a tissue with minimally invasive therapeutic strategies.
METHODS: Accordingly, an in vivo model of early OA in sheep was here treated through three different cell therapies (culture expanded ADSCs, SVF, and culture expanded AECs) thus to preserve the joint surface from the progression of the pathology. Three months after the treatment injections, their performance was assessed through mechanical automated mapping (Young's modulus and cartilage thickness), gross evaluation of articular surfaces, and biochemical analysis of the synovial fluid.
RESULTS: No severe degeneration was observed after three months from OA induction. Cartilage mechanical properties were crucial to identify early degeneration. All the treatments improved the macroscopic cartilage surface aspect and reduced pro-inflammatory cytokines in the synovial fluid. Among the three treatments, SVF highlighted the best performance while ADSCs the worst.
CONCLUSION: Despite that the evaluated experimental time is an early follow-up and, thus, longer trial is mandatory to properly assess treatments effectiveness, the proposed multidisciplinary approach allowed to obtain preliminary, but also crucial, results concerning the reduction in OA signs on cartilage properties, in osteophyte development and in all the inflammatory markers.
- Large animal model