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Saturday, March 13, 2004

Aging chondrocytes responsible for OA

During a media briefing, Joseph A. Buckwalter, MD, summarized his study indicating that aging chondrocytes are largely responsible for the onset of osteoarthritis. As chondrocytes age, it becomes more difficult for damaged cartilage to be repaired or regenerated.

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common type of arthritis, affecting more than 20 million people in the United States. This condition is most often found in the hands, feet, spine, and large weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees; it can cause loss of movement in addition to pain, which can range from mild to extremely severe. It is caused by the breakdown of cartilage, a process that becomes progressively more common with increasing age to the extent that most people over age 45 have one or more joints with degeneration of articular cartilage.

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common type of arthritis, affecting more than 20 million people in the United States. This condition is most often found in the hands, feet, spine, and large weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees; it can cause loss of movement in addition to pain, which can range from mild to extremely severe. It is caused by the breakdown of cartilage, a process that becomes progressively more common with increasing age to the extent that most people over age 45 have one or more joints with degeneration of articular cartilage.

Researchers measured various age markers in chondrocytes from 27 donors, ranging in age from 1 to 87 years. They discovered that as these cells aged, their ability to replicate significantly decreased. Over time, the cells also became less responsive to external efforts to encourage growth. Additionally, the researchers noted that joint injuries often compound the aging of these cells; finding ways to decrease the risk of joint degeneration after a joint injury is an important area for further research.

As further studies explore new efforts to prevent the development and progression of osteoarthritis and to improve cartilage repair for middle-aged and older patients, they should explore strategies to slow the aging of chondrocytes or replace aging cells. Dr. Buckwalter's research is supported by award P50 AR48939 National Institutes of Health Specialized Center on Research for OA.

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Last modified 13/March/2004