Effect of dexamethasone prodrug on inflamed temporomandibular joints in juvenile rats

Mitchell Knudsen, Matthew Bury, Callie Holwegner, Adam L. Reinhardt, Fang Yuan, Yijia Zhang, Peter Giannini, David B. Marx, Dong Wang, Richard A. Reinhardt

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7 Scopus citations


Introduction: Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) often causes inflammation of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and has been treated with both systemic and intra-articular steroids, with concerns about effects on growing bones. In this study, we evaluated the impact of a macromolecular prodrug of dexamethasone (P-DEX) with inflammation-targeting potential applied systemically or directly to the TMJ. Methods: Joint inflammation was initiated by injecting two doses of complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) at 1-month intervals into the right TMJs of 24 growing Sprague-Dawley male rats (controls on left side). Four additional rats were not manipulated. With the second CFA injection, animals received (1) 5 mg of P-DEX intra-articularly (n = 9), (2) 15 mg of P-DEX into the tail vein (n = 7), or (3) nothing in addition to CFA (n = 8). The rats were killed 28 days later and measured by radiography for ramus height (condylar superior to gonion inferior [CsGoInf]), by micro-computed tomography for condylar width (CW) and bone volume/standardized condylar volume (BV/CV), and by histology for retrodiscal inflammatory cells. Inflammation targeting of systemic P-DEX was confirmed by IVIS infrared dye imaging. Inflammation and bone growth were compared between groups using analysis of variance and Pearson's correlations. Results: CFA caused a significant reduction in CsGoInf (p < 0.05), but neither route of P-DEX administration had an effect on CsGoInf or CW at CFA injection sites. BV/CV was significantly reduced in both inflamed and control condyles as a result of either steroid application (p < 0.05). The inflammatory infiltrate was overwhelmingly lymphocytic, comprising 16.4 ± 1.3 % of the field in CFA alone vs. <0.01 % lymphocytes in contralateral controls (p < 0.0001). Both P-DEX TMJ (10.1 ± 1.2 %) and systemic P-DEX (8.9 ± 1.7 %) reduced lymphocytes (p < 0.002). The total area of inflammatory infiltrate was significantly less in the systemic injection group than in the group that received CFA injections alone (2.6 ± 1.5 mm2 vs. 8.0 ± 1.3 mm2; p = 0.009), but not in the group that received intra-articular P-DEX (8.8 ± 1.2 mm2). Conclusions: High-dose systemic administration of inflammation-targeting P-DEX is more effective than an intra-articular injection in reducing TMJ inflammation, but both routes may affect TMJ bone density.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number267
JournalArthritis Research and Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 24 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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