One of the most prevalent joint disorders in the United States, osteoarthritis (OA) is characterized by progressive degeneration of articular cartilage, primarily in the hip and knee joints, which results in significant impacts on patient mobility and quality of life. To date, there are no existing curative therapies for OA able to slow down or inhibit cartilage degeneration. Presently, there is an extensive body of ongoing research to understand OA pathology and discover novel therapeutic approaches or agents that can efficiently slow down, stop, or even reverse OA. Thus, it is crucial to have a quantitative and reproducible approach to accurately evaluate OA-associated pathological changes in the joint cartilage, synovium, and subchondral bone. Currently, OA severity and progression are primarily assessed using the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) or Mankin scoring systems. In spite of the importance of these scoring systems, they are semiquantitative and can be influenced by user subjectivity. More importantly, they fail to accurately evaluate subtle, yet important, changes in the cartilage during the early disease states or early treatment phases. The protocol we describe here uses a computerized and semiautomated histomorphometric software system to establish a standardized, rigorous, and reproducible quantitative methodology for the evaluation of joint changes in OA. This protocol presents a powerful addition to the existing systems and allows for more efficient detection of pathological changes in the joint.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Neuroscience
- General Chemical Engineering
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Immunology and Microbiology