Researchers uncover findings about the development of arthritis


September 12, 2014

Topic: physical therapy

Researchers from the University of Liverpool have discovered that certain cells change their behavior after the development of osteoarthritis.

Researchers from the University of Liverpool have discovered that certain cells change their behavior after the development of osteoarthritis. The findings were published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology.

The prevalence of osteoarthritis
The Arthritis Foundation stated that approximately 27 million people in the U.S. have osteoarthritis. The symptoms of the condition develop slowly over time. Initially, osteoarthritis only causes soreness and stiffness, so people may not realize they have the condition. The stiffness normally occurs when the joints are either overused or unused for a period of time. Normally, joint pain happens in the hips, knees and lower back. Once the disease becomes severe, it is troubling for people to walk up stairs, be active and fulfill other daily tasks. There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but there is medication to help alleviate pain. Physical therapy can also help increase mobility and improve overall function in the joints. 

The study authors acknowledged that they still have not discovered direct causes behind arthritis. However, they did note that there are certain risk factors, such as obesity and old age, can change cell behavior after the joint is affected by osteoarthritis.

The purpose of mRNA
The researchers discovered that molecules called mRNA change in the rate of how they are created and destroyed. They believe that these changes play a big role in cells' behavior. The molecules help carry information from DNA to parts of cells responsible for protein development and help the cells function. When osteoarthritis disrupts this process by destroying more mRNA, the cells cannot function as effectively.

Senior lecturer in orthopaedic sciences, Simon Tew?, said in a statement: "Osteoarthritic cartilage cells have a significant number of genes whose mRNA is destroyed more rapidly than those in healthy cells. This affects some genes that we already know are involved in osteoarthritis as well as some that are less well studied."

The study authors uncovered these findings by comparing a group of patients with osteoarthritis to a group without arthritis. Their findings suggest that, once the cells begin to work poorly, arthritis can develop. The researchers hope that their findings will lead to more research and a potential treatment method for the condition.

Though they have not found the cause behind arthritis, the findings do highlight the way the condition evolves. The study authors noted their findings are only pieces of a much larger puzzle. They believe they need to fully understand a condition before they can find the best way to treat it.


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