Animal Models of Osteoarthritis: Comparisons and Key Considerations

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Osteoarthritis (OA) is unquestionably one of the most important chronic health issues in humans, affecting millions of individuals and costing billions of dollars annually. Despite widespread awareness of this disease and its devastating impact, the pathogenesis of early OA is not completely understood, hampering the development of effective tools for early diagnosis and disease-modifying therapeutics. Most human tissue available for study is obtained at the time of joint replacement, when OA lesions are end stage and little can be concluded about the factors that played a role in disease development. To overcome this limitation, over the past 50 years, numerous induced and spontaneous animal models have been utilized to study disease onset and progression, as well as to test novel therapeutic interventions. Reflecting the heterogeneity of OA itself, no single “gold standard” animal model for OA exists; thus, a challenge for researchers lies in selecting the most appropriate model to answer a particular scientific question of interest. This review provides general considerations for model selection, as well as important features of species such as mouse, rat, guinea pig, sheep, goat, and horse, which researchers should be mindful of when choosing the “best” animal model for their intended purpose. Special consideration is given to key variations in pathology among species as well as recommended guidelines for reporting the histologic features of each model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)803-818
Number of pages16
JournalVeterinary pathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 24 2015


  • animal models
  • arthritis
  • degenerative joint disease
  • disease progression
  • histopathology
  • osteoarthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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