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The Role of Cytokines in Posttraumatic Arthritis

Steven A. Olson, J Am Acad Orthop Surg January 2014 vol. 22 no. 1

Abstract The development of arthritis after joint injury is commonly known as posttraumatic arthritis (PTA). The inciting traumatic event may range from cartilage contusion and bone bruise combined with meniscus or ligament tear, to intra-articular fracture. End-stage PTA is often indistinguishable from primary osteoarthritis. However, knowing the time of the inciting traumatic event in a patient with PTA provides an opportunity to understand the events following joint injury that lead to the progression of arthritis. Joint injury often leads to mechanical alterations in loading of the injured joint, and restoration of joint mechanics through surgical repair remains an important aspect of treatment. However, the accuracy of joint reduction by itself does not account for the variability in outcome following joint injury, as evidenced by the fact that PTA remains a significant clinical problem. Emerging research in animal models and human subjects indicates that several inflammatory cytokines and related inflammatory mediators are elevated following joint injury. Data from animal studies and early clinical trials suggest that early inhibition of the intra-articular inflammatory response may improve clinical outcomes.

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