Effect of Targeted Cytokine Inhibition on Progression of Post-Traumatic Osteoarthritis Following Intra-Articular Fracture

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Intra-articular fractures (IAF) result in significant and prolonged inflammation, increasing the chances of developing post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA). Interleukin-one beta (IL-1β) and Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha (TNF-α) are key inflammatory factors shown to be involved in osteochondral degradation following IAF. As such, use of targeted biologics such as Infliximab (INX), a TNF-α inhibitor, and Anakinra (ANR), an interleukin-one (IL-1) receptor antagonist (IL1RA), may protect against PTOA by damping the inflammatory response to IAF and reducing osteochondral degradation. To test this hypothesis, IAFs were induced in the hindlimb knee joints of rats treated with INX at 10 mg/kg/day, ANR at 100 g/kg/day, or saline (vehicle control) by subcutaneous infusion for a period of two weeks and healing was evaluated at 8-weeks post injury. Serum and synovial fluid (SF) were analyzed for soluble factors. In-vivo microcomputed tomography (µCT) scans assessed bone mineral density and bone morphometry measurements. Cationic CA4+ agent assessed articular cartilage composition via ex vivo µCT. Scoring according to the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) guidelines was performed on stained histologic tibia sections at the 56-day endpoint on a 0–6 scale. Systemically, ANR reduced many pro-inflammatory cytokines and reduced osteochondral degradation markers Cross Linked C-Telopeptide Of Type II (CTXII, p < 0.05) and tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP, p < 0.05). ANR treatment resulted in increased chemokines; macrophage-chemotractant protein-1 (MCP-1), MPC-3, macrophage inhibitory protein 2 (MIP2) with a concomitant decrease in proinflammatory interleukin-17A (IL17A) at 14 days post-injury within the SF. Microcomputed tomography (µCT) at 56 days post-injury revealed ANR Treatment decreased epiphyseal degree of anisotropy (DA) (p < 0.05) relative to saline. No differences were found with OARSI scoring but contrast-enhanced µCT revealed a reduction in glycosaminoglycan content with ANR treatment. These findings suggest targeted cytokine inhibition, specifically IL-1 signaling, as a monotherapy has minimal utility for improving IAF healing outcomes but may have utility for promoting a more permissive inflammatory environment that would allow more potent disease modifying osteoarthritis drugs to mitigate the progression of PTOA after IAF.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13606
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • articular cartilage
  • inflammation
  • interleukin 1 receptor antagonist
  • intra-articular fractures
  • post-traumatic osteoarthritis
  • synovial fluid
  • tumor necrosis factor inhibitors


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