First step toward treatment for painful flat feet

January 11, 2012

A team led by the University of East Anglia (UEA) has made an advance in understanding the causes of adult-acquired flat feet - a painful condition particularly affecting middle-aged women.

Published today in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, the findings could eventually lead to new drug therapy for this and other common conditions affecting the tendons, such as Achilles tendonitis.

Adult-acquired flat foot is most common in women over 40 and often goes undiagnosed. The condition results from the gradual 'stretching out' over time of a tendon near the ankle bone - the tibialis posterior tendon - which is the main stabiliser of the foot arch.

The causes of this stretching are not fully understood though some believe wearing high heels and standing or walking for long periods may play a role. Known risk factors for the condition include obesity, hypertension and diabetes.

Working with surgeons and scientists at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge and the University of Bristol, the team showed that the structure and composition of tendon specimens had changed and found evidence of increased activity of some proteolytic enzymes. These enzymes can break down the constituents of the tibialis posterior tendon and weaken it - causing the foot arch to fall.

"Our study may have important therapeutic implications since the altered enzyme activity could be a target for new drug therapies in the future," said lead author Arthritis Research UK senior research fellow Dr Graham Riley, of UEA's School of Biological Sciences.

"We have shown that similar changes also take place in other painful tendon conditions such as Achilles tendonitis, so this advance may ultimately result in an effective alternative to surgery for many patients."

Dr Riley stressed that new treatments could be 10-15 years away. Further research was now needed into which specific proteolytic enzymes should be targeted and whether people could be genetically predisposed to tendon injuries of this type.

The research was funded by Arthritis Research UK, Cambridge Arthritis Research Endeavour, The Rosetrees Trust, The HB Allen Trust, and the Sybil Eastwood Trust.

Prof Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK, said: "Foot problems are an important and not sufficiently recognised cause of pain and disability in the elderly. Ageing changes to the supporting tendons contribute to these problems and this research represents a first step to successfully unraveling some of the complex biochemistry that regulates tendon disorders - knowledge that could have a major impact on developing simple but effective therapeutic choices in the not so distant future."
-end-
'Changes in matrix protein biochemistry and the expression of mRNA encoding matrix proteins and metalloproteinases in posterior tibialis tendinopathy' by A Corps (Addenbrooke's Hospital), A Robinson (Addenbrooke's Hospital), R Harrall (Addenbrooke's Hospital), N Avery (University of Bristol), V Curry (Addenbrooke's Hospital), B Hazleman (Addenbrooke's Hospital), and G Riley (UEA) is published online by the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases on Thursday January 12 2012.

University of East Anglia

Related Enzymes Articles from Brightsurf:

Bacilli and their enzymes show prospects for several applications
This publication is devoted to the des­cription of different microbial enzymes with prospects for practical application.

Ancient enzymes can contribute to greener chemistry
A research team at Uppsala University has resurrected several billion-year-old enzymes and reprogrammed them to catalyse completely different chemical reactions than their modern versions can manage.

Advances in the production of minor ginsenosides using microorganisms and their enzymes
Advances in the Production of Minor Ginsenosides Using Microorganisms and Their Enzymes - BIO Integration https://bio-integration.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/bioi20200007.pdf Announcing a new article publication for BIO Integration journal.

Cold-adapted enzymes can transform at room temperature
Enzymes from cold-loving organisms that live at low temperatures, close to the freezing point of water, display highly distinctive properties.

How enzymes build sugar trees
Researchers have used cryo-electron microscopy to elucidate for the first time the structure and function of a very small enzyme embedded in cell membranes.

Energized by enzymes -- nature's catalysts
Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are using a custom virtual reality app to design an artificial enzyme that converts carbon dioxide to formate, a kind of fuel.

Mathematical model reveals behavior of cellular enzymes
Mathematical modeling helps researchers to understand how enzymes in the body work to ensure normal functioning.

While promoting diseases like cancer, these enzymes also cannibalize each other
In diseases like cancer, atherosclerosis, and sickle cell anemia, cathepsins promote their propagation.

Researchers finally grasp the work week of enzymes
Scientists have found a novel way of monitoring individual enzymes as they chomp through fat.

How oxygen destroys the core of important enzymes
Certain enzymes, such as hydrogen-producing hydrogenases, are unstable in the presence of oxygen.

Read More: Enzymes News and Enzymes Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.