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Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2015 Nov;23(11):1933-8. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2015.01.003.

The role of inflammation-related genes in osteoarthritis.

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Newcastle University, Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
Newcastle University, Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Electronic address:


In this review article we examine the role of inflammation-related genes in osteoarthritis (OA) from the perspective of genetics, epigenetics and gene expression. There have been great strides in such genomic analyses of OA in recent years thanks to the study of adequately powered patient cohorts, the detailed analysis of candidate genes, and the application of genome-wide approaches. These have led to some unexpected and therefore exciting discoveries, implicating pathways that would not necessarily have been predicted to have a role in this common arthritis. Inflammatory-related genes sit firmly in the candidate camp based on prior observations that the OA disease process can have an inflammatory component. What is clear from the genetic studies published to date is that there is no compelling evidence that DNA variation in inflammatory genes is an OA risk factor. This conclusion may of course change as ever more powerful association studies are conducted. There is, however, compelling evidence that epigenetic effects involving inflammatory genes are a component of OA and that alteration in the expression of these genes is also highly relevant to the disease process. We may in fact be close to demonstrating, at the genomic level, a clear separation of OA patients into those in whom inflammation is a key driver of the disease and those in whom it is not. This has obvious implications for the design of trials of novel OA interventions and may also guide the intelligent re-purposing of anti-inflammatory therapies.


Epigenetics; Gene expression; Genetics; Inflammatory genes

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