Chronic Inflammation Drives Osteoarthritis

Yet another reason to try to minimize chronic inflammation, such as that generated by excess fat tissue: researchers "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. 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 [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. ... [The] 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. ... initial damage to the joint sets in motion a chain of molecular events that escalates into an attack upon the damaged joint by one of the body's key defense systems against bacterial and viral infections, the so-called complement system. This sequence of events involves activation of a chain reaction called the 'complement cascade,' and begins early in the development of osteoarthritis. ... An early clue regarding the complement system's key role in osteoarthritis came when [researchers] compared the levels of large numbers of proteins present in the joint fluid taken from osteoarthritis patients with levels present in fluid from healthy individuals. They found that the patients' tissues had a relative overabundance of proteins that act as accelerators in the complement cascade, along with a dearth of proteins that act as brakes."



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