OBJECTIVE: The current therapeutic strategy for posttraumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) focuses on early intervention to attenuate disease progression, preserve joint function, and defer joint replacement timing. Sequential transcriptomic changes of articular cartilage in a rat model were investigated to explore the molecular mechanism in early PTOA progression.
DESIGN: Anterior cruciate ligament transection and medial meniscectomy (ACLT + MMx)-induced PTOA model was applied on male Wistar rats. Articular cartilages were harvested at time 0 (naïve), 2 week, and 4 weeks after surgery. Affymetrix Rat genome 230 2.0 array was utilized to analyze the gene expression changes of articular cartilages.
RESULTS: We identified 849 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) at 2 weeks and 223 DEGs at 4 weeks post-ACLT + MMx surgery compared with time 0 (naïve group). Gene ontology and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway analysis were performed to gain further insights from these DEGs. 22 novel genes and 1 novel KEGG pathway (axon guidance) in cartilage degeneration of osteoarthritis were identified. Axon guidance molecules- Gnai1, Sema4d, Plxnb1, and Srgap2 commonly dysregulated in PTOA progression. Gnai1 gene showed a concordant change in protein expression by immunohistochemistry staining.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study identified 22 novel dysregulated genes and axon guidance pathway associated with articular cartilage degeneration in PTOA progression. These findings provide the potential candidates of biomarkers and therapeutic targets for further investigation.