Development and characterization of an intra-articular fracture mediated model of post-traumatic osteoarthritis

Michael S. Valerio, William A. Pace, Connor P. Dolan, Jorge B. Edwards, Naveena B. Janakiram, Benjamin K. Potter, Christopher L. Dearth, Stephen M. Goldman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This study aimed to develop and characterize a closed intra-articular fracture (IAF) mediated post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) model in rats to serve as a testbed for putative disease modifying interventions. Methods: Male rats were subject to a 0 Joule (J), 1 J, 3 J, or 5 J blunt-force impact to the lateral aspect of the knee and allowed to heal for 14 and 56 days. Micro-CT was performed at time of injury and at the specified endpoints to assess bone morphometry and bone mineral density measurements. Cytokines and osteochondral degradation markers were assayed from serum and synovial fluid via immunoassays. Histopathological analyses were performed on decalcified tissues and assessed for evidence of osteochondral degradation. Results: High-energy (5 J) blunt impacts consistently induced IAF to the proximal tibia, distal femur, or both while lower energy (1 J and 3 J) impacts did not. CCL2 was found to be elevated in the synovial fluid of rats with IAF at both 14- and 56-days post-injury while COMP and NTX-1 were upregulated chronically relative to sham controls. Histological analysis showed increased immune cell infiltration, increased osteoclasts and osteochondral degradation with IAF relative to sham. Conclusion: Based on results from the current study, our data indicates that a 5 J blunt-forced impact adequately and consistently induces hallmark osteoarthritic changes to the articular surface and subchondral bone at 56 days after IAF. Marked development of PTOA pathobiology suggest this model will provide a robust testbed for screening putative disease modifying interventions that might be translated to the clinic for militarily relevant, high-energy joint injuries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number68
JournalJournal of Experimental Orthopaedics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Animal Models
  • Comminuted Fractures
  • Military Personnel
  • Musculoskeletal System
  • Regenerative Medicine
  • Trauma


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