Evaluation of serum cytokines in cats with and without degenerative joint disease and associated pain

Gruen ME, Messenger KM, Thomson AE, Griffith EH, Aldrich LA, Vaden S, Lascelles BD. Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2017 Jan; 183: 49-59.

Degenerative joint disease is common in cats, with signs of pain frequently found on orthopedic examination and radiographs often showing evidence of disease. However, understanding of the pathophysiology of degenerative joint disease and associated pain remains limited. Several cytokines have been identified as having a role in pain in humans, but this has not been investigated in cats.

The present study was performed to use a multiplex platform to evaluate the concentration of 19 cytokines and chemokines in serum samples obtained from cats with and without degenerative joint disease and associated pain. Samples from a total of 186 cats were analyzed, with cats representing a range of severity on radiographic and orthopedic evaluations and categorized by degenerative joint disease scores and pain scores.

Results showed that cats with higher radiographic degenerative joint disease scores have higher serum concentrations of IL-4 and IL-8, while cats with higher orthopedic exam pain scores have higher concentrations of IL-8, IL-2, and TNF-α; increased concentration of IL-8 in degenerative joint disease and pain may be confounded by the association with age. Discriminant analysis was unable to identify one or more cytokines that distinguish between groups of cats classified based on degenerative joint disease score category or pain score category. Finally, cluster analysis driven by analyte concentrations shows separation of groups of cats, but features defining the groups remain unknown.

Further studies are warranted to investigate any changes in cytokine concentrations in response to analgesic therapies, and further evaluate the elevations in cytokine concentrations found here, particularly focused on studies of local cytokines present in synovial fluid.