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High tibial osteotomy (HTO) is a well-established treatment for medial compartmental knee osteoarthritis. Several microRNAs (miRNAs) are involved in osteoarthritis progression and are useful as osteoarthritis-related biomarkers. In this prospective study, we investigated differentially expressed microRNAs in the synovial fluid (SF) before and after HTO in patients with medial compartmental knee osteoarthritis to identify microRNAs that can be used as prognostic biomarkers. We used miRNA-PCR arrays to screen for miRNAs in SF samples obtained preoperatively and 6 months postoperatively from 6 patients with medial compartmental knee osteoarthritis who were treated with medial open wedge HTO. Differentially expressed miRNAs identified in the profiling stage were validated by real-time quantitative PCR in 22 other patients who had also been treated with HTO. All patients radiographically corresponded to Kellgren-Lawrence grade II or III with medial compartmental osteoarthritis. These patients were clinically assessed using a visual analogue scale and Western Ontario McMaster Universities scores. Mechanical axis changes were measured on standing anteroposterior radiographs of the lower limbs assessed preoperatively and at 6 months postoperatively. Among 84 miRNAs known to be involved in the inflammatory process, 14 were expressed in all SF specimens and 3 (miR-30a-5p, miR-29a-3p, and miR-30c-5p) were differentially expressed in the profiling stage. These 3 miRNAs, as well as 4 other miRNAs (miR-378a-5p, miR-140-3p, miR-23a-3p, miR-27b-3p), are related to osteoarthritis progression. These results were validated in the SF from 22 patients. Clinical and radiological outcomes improved after HTO in all patients, and only 2 miRNAs (miR-30c-5p and miR-23a-3p) were significantly differentially expressed between preoperative and postoperative 6-month SF samples (p = 0.006 and 0.007, respectively). Of these two miRNAs, miR-30c-5p correlated with postoperative pain relief. This study provides potential prognostic miRNAs after HTO and further investigations should be considered to determine clinical implications of these miRNAs.
Study design. Three candidate miRNAs were identified in synovial fluid samples collected from 6 patients preoperatively and postoperatively after high tibial osteotomy. After adding 4 miRNAs from published literature, a total of 7 miRNAs in 22 patients were validated.
Box plot showing the interquartile range and median of expression levels of miR-30a-5p, miR-29a-3p, miR-30c-5p, miR-378a-5p, miR-23a-3p, miR-27b-3p, and miR-140-3p at the validation stage.
Heat map showing the expression levels of 84 target miRNAs from a miRNA PCR array screening of synovial fluid collected from 6 patients preoperatively and at 6 months postoperatively.