The significance of the adjacent cartilage in cartilage defect healing is not yet completely understood. Furthermore, it is unknown if the adjacent cartilage can somehow be influenced into responding after cartilage damage. The present study was undertaken to investigate whether the adjacent cartilage can be better sustained after microfracturing in a cartilage defect model in the stifle joint of sheep using a transcutaneous treatment concept (Vetdrop®).
Carprofen and chito-oligosaccharids were added either as single components or as a mixture to a vehicle suspension consisting of a herbal carrier oil in a water-in-oil phase. This mixture was administered onto the skin with the aid of a specific applicator during 6 weeks in 28 sheep, allocated into 6 different groups, that underwent microfracturing surgery either on the left or the right medial femoral condyle. Two groups served as control and were either treated intravenously or sham treated with oxygen only. Sheep were sacrificed and their medial condyle histologically evaluated qualitatively and semi-quantitatively according to 4 different scoring systems (Mankin, ICRS, Little and O’Driscoll).
The adjacent cartilage of animals of group 4 treated transcutaneously with vehicle, chito-oligosaccharids and carprofen had better histological scores compared to all the other groups (Mankin 3.3±0.8, ICRS 15.7±0.7, Little 9.0±1.4). Complete defect filling was absent from the transcutaneous treatment groups.
The experiment suggests that the adjacent cartilage is susceptible to treatment and that the combination of vehicle, chitooligosaccharids and carprofen may sustain the adjacent cartilage during the recovery period.