Findings May Advance Treatment for Facet Joint Osteoarthritis

Researchers from the Krembil Research Institute at Toronto Western Hospital report the identification of 2 tissue biomarkers that cause inflammation, cartilage destruction, and collagen depletion contributing to spine osteoarthritis. At present, there is no known cure for osteoarthritis, which is characterized by a breakdown in the protective cartilage in the spine, hand, knee, and hip joints. Facet joint osteoarthritis (FJ OA) is a major cause of low back pain and disability, affecting millions worldwide. Characterizing the findings as the first identify these mediators of facet joint cartilage degeneration, study author Mohit Kapoor, PhD, commented, “These biomarkers are actively involved in increasing inflammation and destructive activities in spine cartilage and assist in its destruction. Now that we know what they are, we are currently looking at blocking them and restoring the joint.”

The study examined 2,100 microRNAs in tissue biopsies from 55 patients undergoing decompression or discectomy procedures at the Krembil Institute. Two of these, microRNA-181a-5p and microRNA-4454, were found to be actively involved in destroying cartilage and increasing inflammation, and that measuring their levels could help determine the stage of progression of FJ OA in individual patients. The team is investigating whether these biomarkers can be detected in the blood, and whether they represent therapeutic targets for halting and reversing spine degeneration. The findings appear in the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight.

Read a news story about the study findings here.

The journal article may be found here.

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