Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease affecting the extracellular matrix of especially synovial joints. The thickness of the synovial membrane increases and surrounding tissue degrades, leading to altered collagen balance in the tissues. In this study, we investigated the altered tissue balance of cartilage, synovial membrane, and connective tissue in collagen induced arthritis (CIA) in rats.
Six newly developed ELISAs quantifying MMP-derived collagen degradation (C1M, C2M, and C3M) and formation (P1NP, P2NP, and P3NP) was used to detect cartilage turnover in rats with CIA. Moreover, CTX-II was used to detect alternative type II collagen degradation and as control of the model. 10 Lewis rats were injected with porcrine type II collagen twice with a 7 day interval and 10 rats was injected with 0.05 M acetic acid as control. The experiment ran for 26 days.
A significant increase in the degradation of type I, II, and III collagen (C1M, C2M, and C3M, respectively) was detected on day 22 (P = 0.0068, P = 0.0068, P < 0.0001, respectively), whereas no significant difference in formation (P1NP, P2NP, and P3NP) was detected at any time point (P=0.22, P=0.53, P=0.53, respectively). The CTX-II level increased strongly from disease onset and onwards.
A nearly total separation between diseased and control animals was detected with C3M, making it a good diagnostic marker. The balance of type I, II, and III collagen was significantly altered with CIA in rats, with favour of degradation of the investigated collagens. This indicates unbalanced turnover of the surrounding tissues of the synovial joints, leading to increased pain and degeneration of the synovial joints.