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Knee Pain Health Center

Osteoarthritis Linked to Gene Mutation

Unusual DNA Pattern Seen in Cartilage Gene of Osteoarthritis Patients
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 27, 2007 -- Variations in a cartilage gene may increase the odds of developing osteoarthritis, a Japanese study shows.

In osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, the cartilage that covers and cushions joints wears down. The gene in question helps develop cartilage, say the researchers.

They included Shiro Ikegawa, MD, PhD, head of the Laboratory for Bone and Joint Diseases at Tokyo's RIKEN, a science and technology research institute.

When Ikegawa and colleagues screened the GDF5 gene in 24 people with hip osteoarthritis, several DNA variations in the GDF5 gene stood out.

Based on their findings, the researchers screened the GDF5 gene in 239 Japanese hip osteoarthritis patients, 718 Japanese knee osteoarthritis patients, and more than 1,100 Japanese people without osteoarthritis.

Variations in the GDF5 gene were more common in the osteoarthritis patients than in the people without osteoarthritis.

The same was true when the researchers looked at a group of 313 Chinese patients with knee osteoarthritis and 485 Chinese people without osteoarthritis.

The findings don't mean GDF5 is the only gene that affects osteoarthritis.

But the study "will open a new window" in osteoarthritis research and may eventually lead to new treatments, the researchers write in Nature Genetics.

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