Background: Recently, intra-articular botulinum toxin A (IA BoNT A) has been shown to reduce joint pain in osteoarthritic dogs. Similar results have been reported in human patients with arthritis. However, the mechanism of the antinociceptive action of IA BoNT A is currently not known. The aim of this study was to explore this mechanism of action by investigating the effect of IA BoNT A on synovial fluid (SF) and serum substance P (SP), prostaglandin E-2 (PGE(2)), and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) in osteoarthritic dogs. Additionally, the aim was to compare SF SP and PGE(2) between osteoarthritic and non-osteoarthritic joints, and investigate associations between SP, PGE(2), osteoarthritic pain, and the signalment of dogs. Thirty-five dogs with chronic naturally occurring osteoarthritis and 13 non-osteoarthritic control dogs were included in the study. Osteoarthritic dogs received either IA BoNT A (n = 19) or IA placebo (n = 16). Serum and SF samples were collected and osteoarthritic pain was evaluated before (baseline) and 2 and 8 weeks after treatment. Osteoarthritic pain was assessed with force platform, Helsinki Chronic Pain Index, and joint palpation. Synovial fluid samples were obtained from control dogs after euthanasia. The change from baseline in SP and PGE(2) concentration was compared between the IA BoNT A and placebo groups. The synovial fluid SP and PGE(2) concentration was compared between osteoarthritic and control joints. Associations between SP, PGE(2), osteoarthritic pain, and the signalment of dogs were evaluated. Results: There was no significant change from baseline in SP or PGE(2) after IA BoNT A. Synovial fluid PGE(2) was significantly higher in osteoarthritic compared to control joints. Synovial fluid PGE(2) correlated with osteoarthritic pain. No associations were found between SP or PGE2 and the signalment of dogs. The concentration of TNF-alpha remained under the detection limit of the assay in all samples. Conclusions: The results suggest that the antinociceptive effect of IA BoNT A in the joint might not be related to the inhibition of SP nor PGE(2). Synovial fluid PGE(2,) but not SP, could be a marker for chronic osteoarthritis and pain in dogs
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