Determinants of radiographic progression in osteoarthritis (OA) are poorly understood. We investigated which features on baseline magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) acted as predictors of change in joint space width (JSW).
A total of 559 men and women over the age of 50 years with clinical knee OA [Kellgren-Lawrence (KL) grade 2–3] were recruited to the placebo arm of the SEKOIA study (98 centers; 18 countries). Minimal tibiofemoral joint space and KL grade on plain radiograph of the knee were assessed at baseline and at yearly followup up to 3 years. In a subset, serial knee MRI examinations were performed. Individuals with a bone marrow lesion (BML) ≥ grade 2 at the tibiofemoral joint at baseline were classified as BML-positive. Relationships between change in JSW and risk factors were assessed using linear regression.
The mean age of study participants was 62.8 (SD 7.5) years and 73% were female; 38.6% had BML. Mean baseline JSW was 3.65 mm. This reduced by 0.18 (0.30) mm/year in men and 0.13 (0.23) mm/year in women. Those with BML had a significantly higher rate of annualized change in JSW; this relationship remained robust after adjustment for age, sex, and baseline KL grade [β = −0.10 (95% CI −0.18, −0.02) mm/yr]. Age, sex, baseline KL grade, and other MRI findings did not influence the rate of change in JSW.
The rate of change in JSW was similar in men and women. BML on knee MRI predicted the rate of radiographic change in JSW. This relationship was independent of age, sex, and baseline KL grade.