Relevance of synovial fluid chondroitin sulphate as a biomarker to monitor polo pony joints

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Baccarin, Raquel Yvonne Arantes
Rasera, Luciane
Machado, Thais S. L.
Michelacci, Yara Maria [UNIFESP]
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Osteoarthritis (OA) of the metacarpophalangeal joint is the most common articular disease in polo ponies leading to early retirement. A biomarker that would discriminate between pathological and physiological changes secondary to exercise could be helpful in OA prevention. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of polo training on synovial fluid biomarkers of inflammation and cartilage turnover in polo ponies of different skill levels. Synovial fluid samples were collected from metacarpophalangeal joints of polo ponies before and during the polo season (320 d). Nucleated cells, soluble protein, prostaglandin E-2 (PGE(2)), glycosaminoglycans (GAG), and urea were measured. The main synovial fluid GAG are chondroitin sulphate (CS, similar to 25 mu g/mL) and hyaluronic acid (HA, similar to 400 mu g/mL). After a polo match, a transitory increase in protein and PGE(2), but not CS and HA, occurred (expressed as urea ratio), returning to basal levels in 24 h. During the polo season, the number of synovial fluid nucleated cells was always in the normal range. Increases in protein and HA occurred during the initial 40 to 80 d, returning to basal levels afterwards. In contrast, in polo prospects the concentration of CS steadily increased during the season. Long-term follow-up revealed that the synovial fluid CS was significantly higher in polo ponies that developed joint diseases within 24 months following our study. In conclusion, CS seems to be an early marker of articular cartilage damage.
Canadian Journal Of Veterinary Research-revue Canadienne De Recherche Veterinaire. Ottawa: Canadian Vet Med Assoc, v. 78, n. 1, p. 50-60, 2014.