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Arthritic knees, but not hips, have robust repair response
Date:2/10/2012

stimulate the right type of reparative elements.

"I am speculating that a single agent would work for the knee," Kraus said.

The findings about the knee were shocking to her, because the literature for years had compared the knee and ankle. Scientists knew the ankle was resistant to osteoarthritis, but the knee was very susceptible.

The thinking was that the ankle joint bones fit together well, like a ball in a socket, so the joint cartilage is less likely to degrade, while the knee joint bones fit less well together and require tissue, like the meniscus, to create a better fit so knee cartilage is more likely to degrade.

"What we found is startling, because the hip joint also has a ball-in-socket structure yet it degrades and fails to mount a strong repair response," Kraus said. "We think this means that joint congruency alone cannot explain the difference in the repair response of joints, so there is more to learn."

Kraus and her team discovered a biomarker that is a measure of an altered (deaminated) protein, called D-COMP. In the circulation it signals hip degeneration and in cartilage it provides insight into the repair response of joint tissues. Kraus said this is the first biomarker specific to a particular joint site, and may be developed into a monitoring tool for hip-joint breakdown.

The next step is to understand the reasons for the difference between knees and hips and also to use the new tools to analyze the ankle for its level of repair response.

"Why is the ankle less susceptible than the knee to osteoarthritis?" Kraus asked. "Can we develop other tools to be specific indicators of joint health for other joints in the body?"


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Contact: Mary Jane Gore
mary.gore@duke.edu
919-660-1309
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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