Biloine W. Young • Fri, June 20th, 2014
Researchers have found a correlation between the presence of biomarkers in the blood, known as micro RNAs (miRNAs), and the development of severe osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee or hip joint.
This is the first study of a large population-based cohort to identify differentially expressed miRNAs in osteoarthritis patients. It was led by Christian Beyer, M.D., from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany and presented June 11 at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress (EULAR 2014).
The study followed 816 patients over 15 years and screened existing serum samples of people with OA, through which they identified three potential miRNA markers. They used joint replacement as a definitive outcome of severe OA in the knee or hip. Of the 816 patients, 67 patients had one or more total joint replacements for severe knee or hip OA. The results of serum analysis showed a correlation between severe knee or hip OA and three miRNA molecules known as let-7e, miR-454 and miR-885-5p. These findings indicate those miRNAs could be used as biomarkers to predict severe OA.
“These results indicate that for the first time we will be able to predict the risk of severe osteoarthritis before the disease starts to significantly impact a person’s life, allowing us to take preventative action early on. Through the early identification of osteoarthritis we can decrease both the impact of the disease on individuals and the major socio-economic burden severe disease poses,” said Beyer.
“OA is a common musculoskeletal disorder affecting ten percent of the world’s population. It is characterized by pain and stiffness in the joints and is one of the top ten most disabling diseases in developed countries. OA is a major cause of knee or hip replacements and disability from the disease has a great impact on individuals, healthcare systems and society. With risk factors including advancing age and obesity, researchers expect the burden of the disease to grow,” according to the EULAR news release.