Acute synovitis and intra-articular methylprednisolone acetate in ponies

Rory J. Todhunter, Susan L. Fubini, Margaret Vernier-Singer, Joyce A.M. Wootton, George Lust, Kathleen P. Freeman, James N. Macleod

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42 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine how acute synovitis, with and without intra-articular methylprednisolone acetate (MPA), affect synthesis of proteoglycan, total protein, and collagen in articular cartilage and total protein synthesis in synovial membrane. Design: Synovitis was induced in 10 ponies by the injection of 0.5 ng lipopolysaccharide (LPS) into the left radiocarpal and midcarpal joints every 2 days for a total of four treatments. Synovitis was documented by clinical examination and synovial fluid analyses. Two days before euthanasia, MPA (0.1 mg/kg) was injected with the last dose of LPS into both the left and right radiocarpal and midcarpal joints of five of these ponies. Proteoglycan synthesis in articular cartilage explants from these joints was measured by incorporation of sodium (35S)sulfate. The size of the proteoglycan monomers and their aggregation with hyaluronan was assessed by size-exclusion chromatography. Protein synthesis in articular cartilage was measured by incorporation of [3H]proline and collagen synthesis by conversion of [3H]proline into [3H]hydroxyproline. Protein synthesis was measured in synovial membrane explants by incorporation of (35S)methionine. Results: Ponies developed carpal effusion and mild lameness accompanied by increased total nucleated cell count and total solids in synovial fluid in response to the LPS injections. Moderate to severe synovial membrane proliferation and inflammation were observed histopathologically in joints injected with LPS but no consistent light-microscopical changes were observed in the articular cartilage from these joints. Intra-articular MPA alone was associated with decreased proteoglycan synthesis and increased protein and collagen synthesis in the cartilage explants. Total protein synthesis by synovial membrane was also increased by MPA alone. In contrast, no differences in protein or proteoglycan synthesis were observed in explants from the joints with synovitis, with or without intra-articular MPA. Treatment with MPA, LPS, and LPS/MPA did not alter proteoglycan aggregate size, but LPS-induced synovitis resulted in an increase in the second largest population of monomers. MPA increased the synthesis of small proteoglycan monomers. Conclusion: Based on the methods used, acute synovitis prevented changes induced by intra-articular MPA alone. Results suggested that the effect of intra-articular MPA on joint metabolism was different between inflamed and normal joints. Experimental studies must consider the effect of inflammation, as well as the potential to introduce in vitro culture artifacts when investigating the effect of intra-articular corticosteroids on chondrocyte function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-105
Number of pages12
JournalOsteoarthritis and Cartilage
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Submitted 23 January 1997; accepted 29 August 1997. Address correspondence to: Rory Todhunter, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, U.S.A. This study was supported by the Grayson Jockey Club Foundation, the Travers Fund for Equine Research and the Ciba-Geigy Corporation. Portions of this work were presented in abstract form at the 5th Annual Veterinary Symposium of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, 1995.


  • Cartilage
  • Corticosteroids
  • Metabolism
  • Synovitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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