Electroacupuncture ameliorates subchondral bone deterioration and inhibits cartilage degeneration in ovariectomised rats

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Abstract

Objectives

To investigate the effects of electroacupuncture (EA) on subchondral bone mass and cartilage degeneration in an experimental animal model of osteoarthritis (OA) induced by ovariectomy (OVX).

Methods

Ninety 3-month-old female Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into the following three groups (n = 30 each): sham operation without treatment (control group); OVX without treatment (OVX group);, and ovariectomy with EA treatment (EA group). Rats in the EA group received EA treatment from the day of OVX. Ten rats in each group were randomly killed at 4, 8 and 12 weeks after operation.

Results

EA reduced urine C-terminal cross-linking telopeptide of type I collagen from 4 weeks after OVX, reduced C-terminal cross-linking telopeptide of type II collagen and body weight from 8 weeks after OVX, and increased serum 17β-oestradiol from 4 weeks after OVX compared with the OVX group (all p<0.01). In the EA group, trabecular bone volume ratio, trabecular thickness and trabecular number increased, and trabecular separation were reduced at each time point compared with the OVX group (p<0.05, p<0.01, respectively). In the EA group, osteoprotegerin (OPG) expression was increased and receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand (RANKL) expression was reduced at each time point compared with the OVX group (p<0.05, p<0.01, respectively). Mankin scores and mRNA expression of matrix metalloproteinase-13 (MMP-13) were lower in EA versus OVX groups at 12 weeks after OVX (both p<0.01).

Conclusion

The results suggest that EA inhibits subchondral bone loss by regulating RANK/RANKL/OPG signalling and protects articular cartilage by inhibiting MMP-13 in OVX rats.

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