Data from a recent study appearing in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy indicates cells from osteoarthritic knees exhibit abnormally shortened telomeres, with a greater percentage of cells with ultra short telomeres present in the damaged region within the joint. The study’s authors report that new technology called Universal single telomere length assay was used to examine the telomeres of cells taken from the knees of patients who had undergone joint replacement surgery. 

The study’s results suggested that average telomere length was shortened in osteoarthritis (OA). The results also indicated that “ultra short” telomeres, which researchers reportedly attribute to oxidative stress, exhibited a greater association with OA. Maria Harbo, doctoral candidate and researcher, University of Southern Denmark, led the study and reiterates its findings, “We see both a reduced mean telomere length and an increase in the number of cells with ultra short telomeres associated with increased severity of OA, proximity to the most damaged section of the joint, and with senescence.”

Harbo goes on to report that the telomere study sheds light on two potential processes occurring in OA. The first encompasses the age-related shortening of telomeres, leading to cells’ inability to divide and senescence. The second process, involving ultra short telomeres, facilitates senescence and the inability of the joint to repair itself. Harbo points to the second process as the most important in OA, “The damaged cartilage could add to the mechanical stress within the joint and so cause a feedback cycle driving the progression of the disease,” she says.

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Source: Arthritis Research & Therapy