Researchers uncover link between immune function and osteoarthritic pain and progression

November 27, 2017

The immune system plays a pivotal role in the amount of pain and disease progression experienced by patients with osteoarthritis (OA), McMaster University researchers have found.

This discovery could lead to new strategies for improving joint pain management and immune function in older adults with arthritis.

The study, published in the medical journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, found that monocytes, the white blood cells necessary to regulate immune responses, were more activated and pro-inflammatory in women with osteoarthritis, and that elevated inflammation and body mass index were associated with this increased activation.

When compared with a control group, this combination created a perfect storm - one that was found to increase the pain and progression of knee osteoarthritis. The study involved 22 women with OA, and 22 women of the same age without OA.

"It is the first study, to our knowledge, to specifically characterize changes in circulating monocytes in individuals with OA compared to healthy women," said senior author Dawn Bowdish, a professor of pathology and molecular medicine at McMaster, and member of the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging.

"We know that changes in monocytes contribute to the development of chronic inflammatory conditions. If we can target these monocytes in OA, we may be able to slow down disease progression or decrease the risk of other chronic inflammatory diseases," she said.

Chronic inflammation and osteoarthritis has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and depression among adults with OA. While the cause of OA remains unknown, multiple factors contribute to its risk, progression and severity.

"We believe these findings are completely novel in the literature about the knees and OA," said senior author Monica Maly, an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo who was involved in the research while an associate professor of McMaster's School of Rehabilitation Sciences. "[It] will form the basis for ongoing collaboration to explore this phenomenon in a larger sample."

The researchers intend to take this knowledge and apply it to better understanding the impact of exercise on the health of older adults with osteoarthritis.

The Arthritis Alliance of Canada has reported that effective strategies for managing OA-related pain, specifically in the workplace, would result in savings of $488 billion over the next 25 years.
-end-
This study was supported by a grant from McMaster University's Labarge Optimal Aging Initiative.

High resolution photos of researchers Dawn Bowdish and Monica Maly can be downloaded at this link: https://adobe.ly/2z3gBcp

McMaster University

Related Osteoarthritis Articles from Brightsurf:

Major savings possible with app-based osteoarthritis treatment
Osteoarthritis treatment conducted digitally via an app costs around 25% of what conventional care costs, according to a study from Lund University in Sweden published in the research journal PLOS ONE.

New approach to treating osteoarthritis advances
Injections of a natural 'energy' molecule prompted regrowth of almost half of the cartilage lost with aging in knees, a new study in rodents shows.

Bone drug may be beneficial for knee osteoarthritis
Bisphosphonates (a class of drugs that prevent the loss of bone density and used to treat osteoporosis and similar diseases) appear to be safe and beneficial for osteoarthritis patients.

Certain jobs linked to higher risk of knee osteoarthritis
Workers in jobs that typically involve heavy lifting, frequent climbing, prolonged kneeling, squatting, and standing face an increased risk of developing knee osteoarthritis.

App helps reduce osteoarthritis pain
By performing a few simple physical exercises daily, and receiving information about their disease regularly, 500 osteoarthritis patients were able to on average halve their pain in 6 months -- and improve their physical function.

Osteoarthritis can increase your risk for social isolation
In a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers examined information from the European Project on OSteoArthritis (EPOSA) study.

High rates of opioid prescriptions for osteoarthritis
Opioids work against severe pain but the risks of side effects and addiction are high.

Disease burden in osteoarthritis is similar to rheumatoid arthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) has traditionally been viewed as a highly prevalent but milder condition when compared with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and some may believe that it is part of a normal aging process requiring acceptance, not treatment.

3D printing may help treat osteoarthritis
In a Journal of Orthopaedic Research study, scientists used 3D printing to repair bone in the joints of mini-pigs, an advance that may help to treat osteoarthritis in humans.

Finger joint enlargements may be linked to knee osteoarthritis
Heberden's nodes (HNs) are bony enlargements of the finger joints that are readily detectable in a routine physical exam and are considered hallmarks of osteoarthritis.

Read More: Osteoarthritis News and Osteoarthritis 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.