University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food & Environment


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Articular Cartilage Maturation and Repair

James N. MacLeod, VMD, PhD
(859) 218-1099

photo of horsesPain and the resulting lameness caused by either developmental cartilage lesions such as osteochondrosis (OCD) or acquired cartilage lesions such as knee chips are common problems that limit the athletic potential of many horses. While the importance of joint cartilage to soundness is widely appreciated, our knowledge is quite limited on several fundamental questions.

  • How does the normal function of cartilage change as a horse matures?

  • When a horse starts into fast or heavy work, how does healthy cartilage respond to the associated increases in biomechanical stresses placed on the joints?

  • Why is cartilage normally unable to repair a lesion in the joint surface and fully restore its structural and biomechanical integrity?

  • What can be done therapeutically to improve the ability of articular lesions to heal?

This project is designed to provide information relevant to these questions by analyzing patterns of gene expression in the cells that synthesize and maintain cartilage. Normal joint cartilage from adult horses is being compared to

  • newborn foals,

  • cartilage cells that are used in surgical grafting procedures, and

  • the inadequate repair tissue that forms in a joint lesion.

graphic of cartilage


Maxwell H.Gluck Equine Research Center
Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky 40546-0099

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