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Taheri, Shahed; Winkler, Thomas; Schenk, Lia Sabrina; Neuerburg, Carl; Baumbach, Sebastian Felix; Zustin, Jozef; Lehmann, Wolfgang and Schilling, Arndt F. (2019): Developmental Transformation and Reduction of Connective Cavities within the Subchondral Bone. In: International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Vol. 20, No. 3, 770

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It is widely accepted that the subchondral bone (SCB) plays a crucial role in the physiopathology of osteoarthritis (OA), although its contribution is still debated. Much of the pre-clinical research on the role of SCB is concentrated on comparative evaluations of healthy vs. early OA or early OA vs. advanced OA cases, while neglecting how pure maturation could change the SCB's microstructure. To assess the transformations of the healthy SCB from young age to early adulthood, we examined the microstructure and material composition of the medial condyle of the femur in calves (three months) and cattle (18 months) for the calcified cartilage (CC) and the subchondral bone plate (SCBP). The entire subchondral zone (SCZ) was significantly thicker in cattle compared to calves, although the proportion of the CC and SCBP thicknesses were relatively constant. The trabecular number (Tb.N.) and the connectivity density (Conn.D) were significantly higher in the deeper region of the SCZ, while the bone volume fraction (BV/TV), and the degree of anisotropy (DA) were more affected by age rather than the region. The mineralization increased within the first 250 mu m of the SCZ irrespective of sample type, and became stable thereafter. Cattle exhibited higher mineralization than calves at all depths, with a mean Ca/P ratio of 1.59 and 1.64 for calves and cattle, respectively. Collectively, these results indicate that the SCZ is highly dynamic at early age, and CC is the most dynamic layer of the SCZ.

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