Objectives: The goal of this study was to determine whether intra-articular administration of the potentially anti-fibrotic agent decorin influences the expression of genes involved in the fibrotic cascade, and ultimately leads to less contracture, in an animal model. Methods: A total of 18 rabbits underwent an operation on their right knees to form contractures. Six limbs in group 1 received four intra-articular injections of decorin; six limbs in group 2 received four intra-articular injections of bovine serum albumin (BSA) over eight days; six limbs in group 3 received no injections. The contracted limbs of rabbits in group 1 were biomechanically and genetically compared with the contracted limbs of rabbits in groups 2 and 3, with the use of a calibrated joint measuring device and custom microarray, respectively. Results: There was no statistical difference in the flexion contracture angles between those limbs that received intra-articular decorin versus those that received intra-articular BSA (66° vs 69°; p = 0.41). Likewise, there was no statistical difference between those limbs that received intra-articular decorin versus those who had no injection (66° vs 72°; p = 0.27). When compared with BSA, decorin led to a statistically significant increase in the mRNA expression of 12 genes (p < 0.01). In addition, there was a statistical change in the mRNA expression of three genes, when compared with those without injection. Conclusions: In this model, when administered intra-articularly at eight weeks, 2 mg of decorin had no significant effect on joint contractures. However, our genetic analysis revealed a significant alteration in several fibrotic genes.
- Genetic expression
- Joint contractures
- Rabbit model
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine