Evidence of changes to skeletal muscle contractile properties during the initiation of disease in the ageing guinea pig model of osteoarthritis

Daniel P Tonge, Ronald G Bardsley, Tim Parr, Rose A Maciewicz, Simon Jones

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Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disorder in the world and represents the leading cause of pain and disability in the elderly population. Advancing age remains the single greatest risk factor for OA. Several studies have characterised disease development in the guinea pig ageing model of OA in terms of its joint histopathology and inflammatory cytokine profile. However, the quadriceps muscle has yet to be studied in relation to age-related disease onset or early disease progression. Therefore, we examined whether the initiation of OA in the Dunkin Hartley guinea pig is associated with changes in the quadriceps skeletal muscle. Male Dunkin Hartley guinea pigs (N = 24) were group housed with free access to standard guinea pig chow and water. At 2, 3, 5 and 7 months of age, six animals were selected based on their proximity to the median weight of the cohort. OA severity was graded at each time point by the assessment of toluidine blue stained step coronal sections of the total knee joint. Serum CTX II was measured as a potential biomarker of OA severity. Myosin Heavy Chain (MHC) isoforms were determined by a validated real-time PCR assay. Oxidative and glycolytic potential was determined in quadriceps homogenates via the measurement of ICDH and LDH activity.

Initiation of OA in the DH strain guinea pig occurred between 2 and 3 months of age and progressed until 7 months when the final analyses were conducted. Serum CTX II significantly decreased during this early period of OA initiation and levels were unrelated to the histopathological severity of knee OA at any of the time points assessed. MHC mRNA measurements revealed a significant elevation in MHC IIX mRNA (associated with fast-twitch skeletal muscle fibres) coincident with the initiation of OA at 3 months of age, with preliminary findings suggestive of a positive correlation to OA severity at this time point.

These preliminary findings suggest that disease initiation in the ageing guinea pig model of OA is not associated with overt quadriceps muscle atrophy but instead is coincident with altered expression of mRNAs associated with quadriceps skeletal muscle contractile properties (specifically fast-twitch MHC IIX).
Original languageEnglish
Article number15
JournalLongevity & Healthspan
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013


  • Ageing
  • Age-related
  • Dunkin Hartley
  • Myosin heavy chain
  • Osteoarthritis


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