Novel approaches to evaluate osteoarthritis in the rabbit lateral meniscectomy model


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Virginia Tech


A rabbit lateral meniscectomy model was used to induce osteoarthritis. Separate studies were conducted to evaluate the progression of osteoarthritis and to identify possible biological markers. First, 21 male, New Zealand White rabbits were divided into 3 groups (n = 7 / group). A randomly selected left or right stifle underwent a lateral meniscectomy. The 3 groups were: corticosteroid administration, forced exercise and surgical control. An open field maze was used to assess mobility weekly. The rabbits were euthanitized 47 days after surgery. Histopathologic examination found that the lateral meniscectomy induced more severe lesions than in the non-surgical contralateral stifle. It also showed a significant sparing effect on erosion of cartilage in the corticosteroid group. The corticosteroid group, but not the exercise group, caused a significant increase in mobility (p = 0.008) compared to the surgical control.

Secondly, synovial fluid was harvested from the 12 rabbits on days 0, 6, 26, 40, and 57 with surgery occurring on day 12. Trypan blue was used in the lavage fluid to estimate the volume of harvested synovial fluid. There was a significant increase in the volume harvested on day 26 (p < 0.001). Superoxide dismutase concentration in synovial fluid increased after surgery, although not significantly.

These studies verify that the lateral meniscectomy model produce histopathologic lesions consistent with osteoarthritis. Furthermore, use of trypan blue appears to be a reliable concentration marker in a lavage sample to measure harvested synovial fluid.



superoxide dismutase, Exercise, corticosteroids, osteoarthritis, trypan blue, open field maze