What is the Effect of Bevacizumab on Cartilage and Synovium in a Rabbit Model of Hemophilic Arthropathy?

Mert L., Bilgiç B., Şenol B. K., Zülfikar O. B., Durmaz H., Polat G.

Clinical orthopaedics and related research, vol.481, no.8, pp.1634-1647, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 481 Issue: 8
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1097/corr.0000000000002628
  • Journal Name: Clinical orthopaedics and related research
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, CINAHL, EMBASE
  • Page Numbers: pp.1634-1647
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


BackgroundHemophilic arthropathy can cause recurrent hemarthroses and severe damage to the synovium and articular cartilage. Previous studies have shown that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays an essential role in neoangiogenesis. Bevacizumab, a monoclonal VEGF inhibitor, is used clinically to prevent angiogenesis. However, its effects on hemophilic arthropathy are unknown.Questions/purposesUsing a hemophilic arthropathy rabbit model, we asked: Does an intra-articular injection of bevacizumab (1) inhibit VEGF, (2) decrease signal intensity in dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI (DCE-MRI) as an assessment of capillary permeability and neoangiogenesis, (3) reduce cartilage damage, (4) reduce synovial changes, and (5) affect macroscopic changes during the development of hemophilic arthropathy?MethodsTwenty-five male New Zealand rabbits were divided into four groups. Eight knees from four rabbits were used as the control group. We used an established animal model for hemophilic arthropathy in the remaining 21 rabbits. Animals were assigned randomly to three groups with seven rabbits in each group. One group was used to establish mild arthropathy, and the other two were used to establish severe arthropathy. Autologous blood from the rabbits' ears was injected into the right and left knees twice per week for 8 weeks to represent mild arthropathy and for 16 weeks to represent severe arthropathy. In the mild arthropathy group, bevacizumab was injected into the right knee once every 2 weeks. Bevacizumab was injected into the right knee of rabbits in one of the severe arthropathy groups once every 2 weeks for 16 weeks, and intra-articular bevacizumab injections were administered to the right knees of rabbits in the other severe arthropathy group once every 2 weeks after the eighth week. An equal volume of 0.9% saline was injected into the left knee of rabbits in all arthropathy groups. To explore the efficacy of bevacizumab, joint diameters were quantitatively measured, and cartilage and synovial changes were examined. Degeneration of articular cartilage was evaluated with the semiquantitative Osteoarthritis Research Society International grading system. Synovial damage was analyzed with a semiquantitative microscopic scoring system. In addition, we evaluated perfusion and angiogenesis using DCE-MRI (quantitative signal intensity changes). Immunohistochemical testing was used to measure VEGF levels (analyzed by Western blotting).ResultsIntra-articular bevacizumab treatment inhibited VEGF in our rabbit model of hemophilic arthropathy. VEGF protein expression levels were lower in the mild arthropathy group that received intra-articular bevacizumab (0.89 & PLUSMN; 0.45) than the mild arthropathy control group (1.41 & PLUSMN; 0.61) (mean difference -0.52 [95% CI -0.898 to -0.143]; p = 0.02). VEGF levels were lower in the severe arthropathy group that received treatment for 16 weeks (0.94 & PLUSMN; 0.27) than in the control knees (1.49 & PLUSMN; 0.36) (mean difference -0.55 [95% CI -0.935 to -0.161]; p = 0.01). In the severe arthropathy group, the Osteoarthritis Research Society International score indicating cartilage damage was lower in the group that received intra-articular bevacizumab treatment from the beginning than in the control group (median 17 [range 13 to 18] versus 18 [range 17 to 20]; difference of medians 1; p = 0.02). Additionally, the scores indicated synovial damage was lower in the group that received intra-articular bevacizumab treatment from the beginning than the control group (median 5 [range 4 to 9] versus 9 [range 8 to 12]; difference of medians 4; p = 0.02). The mean of mean values for signal intensity changes was higher in the nontreated severe groups than in the group of healthy knees. The signal intensity changes were higher in the severe arthropathy control groups (Groups BC and CC) (median 311.6 [range 301.4 to 361.2] and 315.1 [range 269.7 to 460.4]) than in the mild arthropathy control group (Group AC) (median 234.1 [range 212.5 to 304.2]; difference of medians 77.5 and 81, respectively; p = 0.02 and p = 0.04, respectively). In the severe arthropathy group, discoloration caused by hemosiderin deposition in the cartilage and synovium was more pronounced than in the mild arthropathy group. In the severe arthropathy group treated with intra-articular bevacizumab, joint diameters were smaller than in the control group (Group BT median 12.7 mm [range 12.3 to 14.0] versus Group BC median 14.0 mm [range 13.1 to 14.5]; difference of medians 1.3 mm; p = 0.02).ConclusionHemarthrosis damages the synovial tissues and cartilage in the knees of rabbits, regardless of whether they are treated with intra-articular bevacizumab. However, intra-articular injection of bevacizumab may reduce cartilage and synovial damage in rabbits when treatment is initiated early during the development of hemophilic arthropathy.