PURPOSE: Investigate in a cross-sectional study time-dependent changes of synovial fluid type II collagen epitope C2C concentrations after knee injury and correlate to other joint injury biomarkers.
METHODS: Synovial fluid samples were aspirated between 0 days and 7 years after injury (n = 235). Serum was collected from 71 of the knee injured patients. Synovial fluid from 8 knee-healthy subjects was used as reference. C2C was quantified by immunoassay and structural injury was determined from magnetic resonance images (MRI) of the injured knee acquired 1-38 days after injury (n = 98). Additional joint injury biomarker results were from earlier investigations of the same samples.
RESULTS: Synovial fluid C2C concentrations were higher in injured knees than in knees of reference subjects from 1 day up to 7 years after injury. C2C concentrations in synovial fluid and serum were correlated (r = 0.403, P < 0.001). In synovial fluid from subjects early after injury (0-33 days), C2C concentrations were correlated with cross-linked C-telopeptide of type II collagen (r = 0.444, P = 0.003), ARGS-aggrecan (r = 0.337, P < 0.001), osteocalcin (r = 0.345, P < 0.001), osteopontin (r = 0.371, P < 0.001) and IL-8 (r = -0.385, P < 0.001), but not with structural joint injury as visualized on MRI.
CONCLUSION: The increased levels of synovial fluid C2C after injury, together with the associations seen with several other injury-related biomarkers, suggest that an acute knee injury is associated with an immediate and sustained local degradation of type II collagen.