Molecular biomarkers associated with knee pain may be useful as diagnostic modalities, prognostic indicators, and surrogate end points for therapeutic trials. The present study describes a novel complex of fibronectin and aggrecan that is present in the affected knee of patients with pain and meniscal abnormality.Methods:
The present prospective study included thirty patients with knee pain, mechanical symptoms, and magnetic resonance imaging findings that were positive for a meniscal tear who chose arthroscopic partial meniscectomy after unsuccessful nonoperative management. Synovial fluid was aspirated at the time of surgery and was assayed for the fibronectin-aggrecan complex with use of a heterogeneous enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The results were compared with knee aspirates from ten asymptomatic volunteers with no pain who underwent magnetic resonance imaging of the knee.Results:
The mean optical density (and standard deviation) of the fibronectin-aggrecan complex was significantly greater in synovial fluid from knees undergoing arthroscopic surgery as compared with fluid from asymptomatic controls (13.29 ± 8.48 compared with 0.03 ± 0.09; p < 0.001). The mean age in the study group was significantly greater than in control group (46.0 ± 12.6 compared with 38.5 ± 6.0 years; p = 0.02), but controlling for age did not affect the results. Post hoc, an optical density cutoff value of 0.3 distinguished the study group from the control group with 100% accuracy.Conclusions:
A novel fibronectin-aggrecan complex is present in the synovial fluid of painful knees with meniscal abnormality. The fibronectin-aggrecan complex may prove to be useful as a clinical biomarker or therapeutic target. Further research is warranted to correlate functional outcome after surgery with the fibronectin-aggrecan complex and other cartilage biomarkers.Level of Evidence:
Diagnostic Level IV. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.