-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, April 2 (HealthDay News) -- Exercise-related damage in
cartilage can help identify people with the earliest stages of
osteoarthritis, a new study reveals.
The findings could improve early detection of the painful joint
disease and could also be used to improve methods of repairing
damaged cartilage, said study senior author Alan Grodzinsky, of the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and colleagues.
For the study, the researchers developed a method that
identifies osteoarthritis-related changes that occur in cartilage
in response to high-load activities such as running and
Cartilage is firm, rubbery tissue that cushions bones and keeps
them from rubbing together. When osteoarthritis begins to develop,
the ability of cartilage to resist physical-activity-related impact
is reduced. This is now known to be due to the loss of molecules
called glycosaminoglycans (GAGs).
Using their new system, the researchers found that GAG-depleted
cartilage loses its ability to stiffen under the forces of
high-load activities. GAG loss also caused an increase in the
depletion of fluids from the cartilage, which likely reduces
protection against the impact of high-load activities.
The findings show how GAG loss at the earliest disease stages
reduces the ability of this tissue to withstand high-load
activities, according to the study, which was published in the
April 2 issue of the
"This finding suggests that people with early degradation of cartilage, even before such changes would be felt as pain, should be careful of dynamic activities such as running or jumping," Grodzinsky said in a journal news release.
Osteoarthritis affects about one-third of older adults and is
the most common type of joint disorder.
The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and
Skin Diseases has more about
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