DOI: 10.1302/1358-992x.2024.1.139 ISSN: 1358-992X


G. Rösch, A. E. Rapp, P. Tsai, H. Kohler, S. Taheri, A. F. Schilling, F. Zaucke, D. Slattery, Z. Jenei-Lanzl

Osteoarthritis (OA) affects the whole joint and leads to chronic pain. The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) seems to be involved in OA pathogenesis, as indicated by in vitro studies as well as by our latest work demonstrating that sympathectomy in mice results in increased subchondral bone volume in the OA knee joint. We assume that chronic stress may lead to opposite effects, such as an increased bone loss in OA due to an elevated sympathetic tone. Therefore, we analyzed experimental OA progression in mice exposed to chronic stress. OA was induced in male C57BL/6J mice by surgical destabilization of the medial meniscus (DMM) and Sham as well as non-operated mice served as controls. Half of these groups were exposed to chronic unpredictable mild stress (CUMS). After 12 weeks, chronic stress efficiency was assessed using behavioral tests. In addition to measuring body weight and length, changes in subchondral bone were analyzed by μCT. Dynamic Weight Bearing system was used to monitor OA-related pain. Histological scoring will be conducted to investigate the severity cartilage degeneration and synovial inflammation. CUMS resulted in increased anxiety and significant decrease in body weight gain in all CUMS groups compared to non-CUMS groups. CUMS also increased serum corticosterone in healthy mice, with even higher levels in CUMS mice after DMM surgery. CUMS had no significant effect on subchondral bone, but subarticular bone mineral density and trabecular thickness were increased. Moreover, CUMS resulted in significant potentiation of DMM-associated pain. Our results suggest that the autonomic imbalance with increased sympathetic nervous activity induced by chronic stress exacerbates the severity of OA pain perception. We expect significantly increased cartilage degeneration as well as more severe synovial inflammation in CUMS DMM mice compared to DMM mice.

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