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General Orthopaedics


The Canadian Orthopaedic Association (COA) and The International Combined Orthopaedic Research Societies (ICORS) Meeting, Montreal, Canada, June 2019.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic degenerative joint disease with cartilage degeneration, subchondral bone sclerosis, synovial inflammation and osteophyte formation. Sensory nerves play an important role in bone metabolism and in the progression of inflammation. This study explored the effects of capsaicin-induced sensory nerve denervation on OA progression in mice.

This study was approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. OA was induced via destabilization of the medial meniscus (DMM). Sensory denervation was induced by subcutaneous injection of capsaicin (90mg/kg) one week prior to DMM. One week after capsaicin injection, sensory denervation in the tibia was confirmed by immunofluorescent staining with calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)-specific antibodies. Four weeks after DMM, micro-CT scans, histological analysis and RT-PCR tests were performed to evaluate OA progression. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS 13. P values of less than 0.05 were considered statistically significant.

Subcutaneous injection of capsaicin successfully induced tibial sensory denervation (n=3), which aggravated OA by increasing subchondral bone resorption. The Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) score of the capsaicin+DMM group (n=8) (11.81±2.92) was significantly higher (P=0.003) than the score of the vehicle+DMM group (n=8) (8.31±1.80). The BV/TV of the tibial subchondral bone in the capsaicin+DMM group (n=8) was 55.67%±3.08, which was significantly lower (P < 0 .001) than in the vehicle+DMM group (n=8) (86.22%±1.92). In addition, the level of expression of somatostatin in the capsaicin+DMM group (n=8) was lower than in the vehicle+DMM group (n=8) (P=0.007).

Capsaicin-induced sensory denervation increased tibial subchondral bone resorption, reduced the expression of somatostatin and eventually exacerbated the existing cartilage degeneration in mice. Despite capsaicin is often used clinically to relieve OA pain, its safety is still controversial according to the OARSI guidelines for the non-surgical management of knee osteoarthritis. The findings of our study suggest that application of capsaicin, although effective in relieving pain, may accelerate the progression of existing OA.