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The European Orthopaedic Research Society (EORS) 2018 Meeting, PART 2, Galway, Ireland, September 2018.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common cause of joint disease and associated disability. Despite this, its pathogenesis remains incompletely understood and no specific drug exists to prevent or reverse the structural changes in OA. Basic calcium phosphate (BCP) crystals are extremely common in OA. BCP crystals consist primarily of hydroxyapatite, with smaller amounts of octacalcium phosphate, tricalcium phosphate and magnesium whitlockite. They are present in 100% of joints at the time of knee and hip joint replacement surgery. Their presence strongly correlates with radiographic severity of osteoarthitis. In mice, intra-articular BCP crystals elicit synovial inflammation and cartilage degradation. The potential mechanisms by which calcium-containing crystals may promote articular damage have been studied in the laboratory setting and in vitro properties of BCP crystals have been observed that emphasise their pathogenic potential. BCP crystals interact with articular cells such as fibroblasts and chondrocytes to induce mitogenesis with resultant cellular proliferation likely leading to synovial lining hypertrophy. BCP crystals also upregulate production of cytokines such as tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), interleukin 1 (IL-1), increase prostaglandin E2 via the cyclooxygenase pathway, stimulate matrix metalloproteinases production and increase nitrous oxide production. Therefore, BCP crystals have potent biologic effects and represent a potential therapeutic target in OA.