Biological markers in osteoarthritis

Jean-Charles Rousseau, Pierre D Delmas
Nature Clinical Practice. Rheumatology 2007, 3 (6): 346-56
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a progressive disorder characterized by destruction of articular cartilage and subchondral bone, and by synovial changes. The diagnosis of OA is generally based on clinical and radiographic changes, which occur fairly late during disease progression and have poor sensitivity for monitoring disease progression. Progression of joint damage is likely to result primarily from an imbalance between cartilage degradation and repair, so measuring markers of these processes would seem a promising approach to improve the prediction of disease progression at the individual level. Moreover, genetic markers might be useful predictors of prognosis. The lack of fully effective, chondroprotective medications has limited the use of such potential markers to monitor the effect of treatment for OA. Nevertheless, owing to their dynamic changes in response to treatment, biological markers might provide relevant information more rapidly than imaging techniques (such as radiography and MRI) can, and should contribute to our understanding of mechanisms that underlie the clinical efficacy of OA treatments. Most of the identified genes involved in OA encode signal-transduction proteins, which provide the potential for novel therapeutic approaches. In this Review, we will use the recently proposed BIPED (i.e. burden of disease, investigative, prognostic, efficacy of intervention and diagnostic) classification of OA markers to describe the potential usage of a given marker.

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