Subchondral bone cyst (SBC) formation is often identified in patients with osteoarthritis. Furthermore, several studies have shown that expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) is elevated in patients with OA.
The aim of our study is to correlate the presence of SBCs and MMP-1 expression with the osteochondral alterations during OA progression.
We studied the cartilage and subchondral bone of 15 patients who had undergone total knee or hip replacement due to primary OA. As controls, we used the femoral heads of three patients without macroscopic OA changes. We evaluated three specimens per patient.
Specimens were divided in four groups based on the Mankin histological severity score. Using immunohistochemistry, we noted SBCs at the site of greatest disease severity. Specifically, these were present more frequently in group III (Mankin score: 6–7) and IV (Mankin: ≥8), compared with group I (Mankin: 1–3) and II (Mankin: 4–5). Mild OA stages (Mankin: 1–6) were characterized by degeneration and thinning of the cartilage, followed by increased osteoblast and osteoclast activity of the subjacent bone and the subsequent appearance of SBCs. Simultaneously, we observed expression of MMP-1 in groups I and II in the cartilage and III and IV in both the cartilage and the subchondral bone. Moreover, osteoblast-like cells in the lining of the SBCs showed an increased expression of MMP-1 in stages III and IV.
Our study provides immunohistological evidence that SBCs accumulate in advanced OA and contain activated cells, which express MMP-1, suggesting that they may thus participate in the osteochondral changes of OA.
Level of evidence
Level III; prospective comparative study.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Osteoarthritis, Subchondral bone cysts, MMP-1, Immunohistochemistry