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Arthritis Rheum. 1999 Nov;42(11):2356-64.

Serum cartilage oligomeric matrix protein reflects osteoarthritis presence and severity: the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project.

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Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA.



To characterize serum cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) levels by age and gender for a radiographically defined population free of hip and knee osteoarthritis (OA), and to examine the potential utility of COMP as a diagnostic biomarker for knee OA.


Serum samples and knee and hip radiographs were obtained at a baseline evaluation as part of the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project, a population-based study of OA in rural North Carolina. A total of 291 Caucasian participants were randomly selected for COMP analysis, 143 patients with radiographic knee OA (Kellgren/Lawrence [K/L] grade > or = 2) and 148 controls with neither hip nor knee OA (K/L grade 0), evenly distributed by age and gender. COMP was quantified by competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay with monoclonal antibody 17-C10. The natural log-transformed COMP data were analyzed using general linear models.


Serum COMP levels were significantly elevated (P = 0.0001) in the age > or = 65 group (mean +/- SD 1,302.1 +/- 496.7 ng/ml) versus the age 45-54 and age 55-64 groups (1,058.1 +/- 432.4 and 1,038.6 +/- 313.3, respectively). Serum COMP levels of the OA group were significantly higher than those of the control group (1,208.57 +/- 487.47 ng/ml versus 1,061.83 +/- 370.58 ng/ml; P = 0.0093). Serum COMP levels also increased significantly with knee OA K/L grade (P = 0.0047), knee OA laterality (P = 0.0043), and number of knee and hip joints involved (P = 0.0001). There was no significant difference in serum COMP levels by gender or obesity.


We demonstrate that in a population-based sample, serum COMP levels can distinguish an OA-affected subgroup from an unaffected subgroup and can reflect disease severity and multiple joint involvement in OA.

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