Open Access Open Badges Research article

Repeated autologous intraarticular blood injections as an animal model for joint pain in haemophilic arthropathy

Michael Karl Boettger123*, Susanne Krucker1, Mieczyslaw Gajda4, Hans-Georg Schaible1 and Thomas Hilberg2

  • * Corresponding author: Michael K Boettger

  • † Equal contributors

Author affiliations

1 Institute of Physiology I, University Hospital, Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany

2 Department of Sports Medicine, University of Wuppertal, Pauluskirchstrasse 7, 42285 Wuppertal, Germany

3 Current address: Bayer HealthCare AG, Wuppertal, Germany

4 Institute of Pathology, University Hospital, Jena, Germany

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

Arthritis Research & Therapy 2013, 15:R148  doi:10.1186/ar4331

Published: 7 October 2013



Haemophilic arthropathy following recurrent joint bleedings is one of the major disease-related complications in people with haemophilia (PWH), leading to mostly chronic joint pain. Since many antinociceptive principles interfere with the clotting system, PWH are restricted in treatment options, thereby defining a medical need for novel therapeutic principles. However, we lack the availability of an animal model for joint pain in haemophilic arthropathy for testing these.


In this study, we aimed to validate the rat model of repeated autologous intraarticular blood injections specifically for pain-related behavior. During an observation period of 50 days, groups of animals were injected weekly into one knee joint with either whole blood or cellular/plasma components.


Injections induced primary hyperalgesia starting after the third injection, accompanied by mild functional gait changes and joint swelling. Secondary hyperalgesia and quantitative gait disturbances were not observed. This phenotype was most prominent in whole blood injected animals, with effect sizes of cells and plasma being additive. In order to differentiate haemophilia-related arthropathy from traumatic joint bleeding, another group was injected with whole blood only once, which did not cause any alterations.


Repeated autologous intraarticular injections of blood showed a time course, inflammatory response and reduction in pain thresholds similar to the signs and symptoms observed in PWH. Therefore, this model may be utilised in the future for testing novel antinociceptive principles in haemophilia-associated joint pain.