A research team at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues from Janssen Research & Development, Spring House, PA, and the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China reports new advances in our understanding of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Osteoarthritis (OA). The team identified differences in key cellular processes and molecular signatures both between RA and OA, as well as between different joints affected by RA. The findings may point the way to the development of targeted therapies that more effectively treat specific joints in patients with RA. At least 50 million adults and 300,000 children in the United States have some type of arthritis, which includes more than 100 different diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The results were published online last week in the journal Nature Communications.
The study focused on epigenetic patterns in fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) — a specialized type of cell that lines the inside of joints, and explored the hypothesis that epigenetic modifications and gene expression between FLS in different joints might be responsible for differences in inflammation and varying responses to similar treatment. The team found just such variations in FLS in the knees and hips of patients with RA. Study author Gary Firestein, MD, commented that “…the differences involved key genes and pathways that are designed to be blocked by new RA treatments. This might provide an explanation as to why some joints improve while others do not, even though they are exposed to the same drug.” Read more about the research findings here.