eCM (Eur Cell Mater / e Cells & Materials) eCM Open Access Scientific Journal
 ISSN:1473-2262         NLM:100973416 (link)         DOI:10.22203/eCM

2017   Volume No 34 – pages 341-364

Title: Sustained intra-cartilage delivery of low dose dexamethasone using a cationic carrier for treatment of post traumatic osteoarthritis

Authors: AG Bajpayee, RE De la Vega, M Scheu, NH Varady, IA Yannatos, LA Brown, Y Krishnan, TJ Fitzsimons, P Bhattacharya, EH Frank, AJ Grodzinsky, RM Porter

Address: University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 4301 W. Markham Street, Mail Slot #587, Little Rock, AR 72205

E-mail: rmporter at

Key Words: Intra-cartilage drug delivery, cartilage, electrostatics, dexamethasone, post-traumatic osteoarthritis, rabbit anterior cruciate ligament transection, avidin.

Publication date: December 5th 2017

Abstract: Disease-modifying osteoarthritis drugs (DMOADs) should reach their intra-tissue target sites at optimal doses for clinical efficacy. The dense, negatively charged matrix of cartilage poses a major hindrance to the transport of potential therapeutics. In this work, electrostatic interactions were utilised to overcome this challenge and enable higher uptake, full-thickness penetration and enhanced retention of dexamethasone (Dex) inside rabbit cartilage. This was accomplished by using the positively charged glycoprotein avidin as nanocarrier, conjugated to Dex by releasable linkers. Therapeutic effects of a single intra-articular injection of low dose avidin-Dex (0.5 mg Dex) were evaluated in rabbits 3 weeks after anterior cruciate ligament transection (ACLT). Immunostaining confirmed that avidin penetrated the full cartilage thickness and was retained for at least 3 weeks. Avidin-Dex suppressed injury-induced joint swelling and catabolic gene expression to a greater extent than free Dex. It also significantly improved the histological score of cell infiltration and morphogenesis within the periarticular synovium. Micro-computed tomography confirmed the reduced incidence and volume of osteophytes following avidin-Dex treatment. However, neither treatment restored the loss of cartilage stiffness following ACLT, suggesting the need for a combinational therapy with a pro-anabolic factor for enhancing matrix biosynthesis. The avidin dose used caused significant glycosaminoglycan (GAG) loss, suggesting the use of higher Dex : avidin ratios in future formulations, such that the delivered avidin dose could be much less than that shown to affect GAGs. This charge-based delivery system converted cartilage into a drug depot that could also be employed for delivery to nearby synovium, menisci and ligaments, enabling clinical translation of a variety of DMOADs.

Article download: Pages 341-364 (PDF file)