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Osteoarthritis results from inflammatory processes, not just wear and tear, Stanford study suggests
Date:11/7/2011

STANFORD, Calif. -- In a study to be published online Nov. 6 in Nature Medicine, investigators at the Stanford University School of Medicine have shown that the development of osteoarthritis is in great part driven by low-grade inflammatory processes. This is at odds with the prevailing view attributing the condition to a lifetime of wear and tear on long-suffering joints.

"It's a paradigm change," said William Robinson, MD, PhD, the study's senior author, of the implication of the findings. "People in the field predominantly view osteoarthritis as a matter of simple wear and tear, like tires gradually wearing out on a car." It also is commonly associated with blow-outs, he added, such as a tear in the meniscus a cartilage-rich, crescent-shaped pad that serves as a shock-absorber in joints or some other traumatic damage to a joint.

But Robinson's paper suggests a different way of understanding the disease. Its findings offer hope that by targeting the inflammatory processes that occur early on in the development of osteoarthritis well before it progresses to the point where symptoms appear the condition might someday be preventable.

Robinson is an associate professor of immunology and rheumatology at Stanford and a staff physician with the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System. The first authorship of the study is shared by research associate Qian Wang, MD, PhD, and Andrew Rozelle, MD, a former Stanford rheumatology fellow now at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease, afflicting some 27 million people in the United States alone. It is characterized by breakdown of cartilage, most often in the knees, hips, fingers and spine. Drugs commonly used to treat osteoarthritis, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, relieve pain but do not slow the disease's progression.

It has long been known that osteoarthritic joint tissues host a heightened number of migratory
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Contact: Bruce Goldman
goldmanb@stanford.edu
650-725-2106
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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