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7th Congress of the European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Lisbon - 4-7 June, 2005


Aim: Investigations on human hyaline cartilage of late stage degenerative arthritis showed that the vascular derived endothelian growth factor (VEGF) seems to play a role in the development of degenerative arthritis. The current study was designed to evaluate the expression of VEGF on chondrocytes of hyaline cartilage in the time course of degenerative arthritis.

Methods: In twelve white new-zealand-rabbits the anterior cruciate ligament was resected to create an anterior instability of the knee. In twelve control rabbits only a sham operation without resection of the ACL was done. Another four animals have not been operated at all (0 weeks). Four animals of each group were sacrificed at three, six and twelve weeks each. After opening of the knee joint, the degenerative arthritis was macroscopically graded and the hyaline cartilage of the load bearing area was evaluated histologically according to Mankin and by immunostaining for VEGF.

Results: The macroscopic and histological grade of degenerative arthritis according to Mankin showed a positive linear correlation to the time after surgery. The scores of the control group were constant in the time course. In the cartilage of the untreated animals (0 weeks) an average of 12 percent (SD 2.6) VEGF-positive chondrocytes were found. After 3 weeks the trial group (17.6%; SD 5.7) as well as the control group showed a significant increase (16.2%; SD 4.7). After 6 weeks the value in the control group dropped to normal (11.5%; SD 5.9) and remained constant after 12 weeks (11.6%; SD 3.3). In the trial group the percentage of VEGF positive chondrocytes rose steadily (19.4%; SD 4.6 after 6 weeks; 21.3%; SD 5.4 after 12 weeks). There was a positive linear correlation between the percentage of VEGF positive cells and the Mankin score (r=0.767; p< 0.01) and the macroscopic score (r=0.518; p=0.02).

Conclusion: The current study shows for the first time an in-vivo increase of VEGF expression on chondrocytes in the time course of osteoarthritis, which is dependent on macroscopic and histological grades. Further studies are needed to evaluate whether this pattern applies to human beings and whether new treatment approaches could evolve from this knowledge.

Theses abstracts were prepared by Professor Roger Lemaire. Correspondence should be addressed to EFORT Central Office, Freihofstrasse 22, CH-8700 Küsnacht, Switzerland.