New research brings light to osteoarthritis pain

December 28, 2012

Topic: orthopaedic pain

New research brings light to osteoarthritis pain

Patients with osteoarthritis (OA) often experience orthopaedic pain, but scientists have known little about why the discomfort occurs. However, new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed some progress in this area.

Researchers from Rush University and Northwestern University found a molecular mechanism that is at the root of pain associated with OA. The findings could help them develop efficient treatments in reducing symptoms.

OA, which is the most common form of arthritis, affects nearly 14 percent of American adults who are age 25 or older, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition is characterized by the degeneration of cartilage and the surrounding bone that makes up a joint. It is the breakdown of tissues that results in pain and joint stiffness.

In the U.S., the treatment of OA costs approximately $200 billion every year, the investigators stated.

Study leader Anne-Marie Malfait, M.D., and her colleagues used a surgical mouse model to look at the molecular pathways of OA. They inspected both pain behaviors and molecular events that occurred within the sensory neurons of the knee. They observed that mice that were affected with OA moved shorter distances and did not climb as often as the animals that did not have the joint condition. The researchers ultimately discovered that the protein MCP-1 and its receptor CCR2 play a key role in joint pain associated with movement.

"This is an important contribution to the field of osteoarthritis research. Rather than looking at the cartilage breakdown pathway in osteoarthritis, Dr. Malfait and her colleagues are looking at the pain pathway, and this can take OA research into a novel direction that can lead to new pain remedies in the future," said Joshua Jacobs, M.D., professor at Rush University.

Research & Education news & articles

More articles