Association between subchondral bone structure and osteoarthritis histopathological grade

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Abstract

Despite increasing evidence that subchondral bone contributes to osteoarthritis (OA) pathogenesis, little is known about local changes in bone structure compared to cartilage degeneration. This study linked structural adaptation of subchondral bone with histological OA grade. Twenty-five osteochondral samples of macroscopically different degeneration were prepared from tibiae of 14 patients. Samples were scanned with micro-computed tomography (μCT) and both conventional structural parameters and novel 3D parameters based on local patterns were analyzed from the subchondral plate and trabecular bone. Subsequently, samples were processed for histology and evaluated for OARSI grade. Each bone parameter and OARSI grade was compared to assess structural adaptation of bone with OA severity. In addition, thicknesses of cartilage, calcified cartilage, and subchondral plate were analyzed from histological sections and compared with subchondral bone plate thickness from μCT. With increasing OARSI grade, the subchondral plate became thicker along with decreased specific bone surface, while there was no change in tissue mineral density. Histological analysis showed that subchondral plate thickness from μCT also includes calcified cartilage. Entropy of local patterns increased with OA severity, reflecting higher tissue heterogeneity. In the trabecular compartment, bone volume fraction and both trabecular thickness and number increased with OARSI grade while trabecular separation and structure model index decreased. Also, elevation of local patterns became longitudinal in the subchondral plate and axial transverse in trabecular bone with increasing OARSI grade. This study demonstrates the possibility of radiological assessment of OA severity by structural analysis of bone. © 2016 The Authors. Journal of Orthopaedic Research Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res

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