Two studies have recently been published that may help us better predict who is at risk for developing arthritis.
The first study, published in the August 2009 edition of Arthritis & Rheumatism involved an analysis of 912 healthy individuals, including 60 who had severe osteoarthritis that led to knee or hip replacement between 1990 and 2005. Those study volunteers who had high levels of vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1) at the start of the study were most likely to require a joint replacement. VCAM-1 is expressed in cartilage and other connective tissue. Lead author Georg Schett from the University of Erlangen-Nuremburg in Germany stated, “The level of VACAm-1 emerged as a significant predictor of the risk of joint replacement due to severe OA, equaling or even surpassing the effects of age.”
This study was the first to establish a laboratory biomarker for the risk of severe osteoarthritis.
Biomarkers are tissue markers that have predictive value either as an indicator of likelihood of disease or even a predictor of likelihood of response to a given therapy.
Another study, appearing in the February 2010 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, was one where researchers in Sweden analyzed the blood samples of 342 people, 86 of whom went on to develop rheumatoid arthritis up to five years after giving blood. Overall, the people who ultimately developed rheumatoid arthritis had higher levels of cytokines (immune-related protein messengers) and other substances involved in inflammation in their blood compared to those who didn’t develop the disease.
“Our findings present an opportunity for better predicting the risk of developing RA and possibly preventing disease progression,” concluded Dr. Rantapää-Dahlqvist, one of the authors.
The nice thing about both studies is the possible predictive value. Knowing ahead of time who is at risk can certainly help clinicians keep a closer eye on symptoms.
Blood biomarkers, in general, though, have weak predictive value when it comes to treatment. What is lacking is a good library of tissue biomarkers (biomarkers from joint tissue) which can help predict what therapy a patient will best respond to.
We are currently involved in a number of studies at our center to identify those tissue biomarkers in patients with various forms of arthritis.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, please contact us to see if you might be eligible for one of these studies. You can call us at 301 694 5800 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or just leave a message here.