Glucocorticoid treatment may prevent long-term damage to joints

Joint injury can result in irreversible damage of cartilage which, despite treatment and surgery, often eventually leads to osteoarthritis (OA) in later life. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Arthritis Research & Therapy demonstrates that short term treatment of damaged cartilage with glucocorticoids can reduce long term degenerative changes and may provide hope for prevention of OA after injury.

A normal joint is covered by a layer of cartilage containing proteoglycans such as aggrecan and lubricating fluid containing glycosaminoglycans (GAG) such as hyaluronic acid. In a double whammy, after proteoglycans and other molecules in cartilage begin to break down and the synthesis of these proteoglycans within cartilage is reduced. Additionally proinflammatory cytokines such as TNFα, IL-1β, and IL-6 are released into the synovial fluid after injury and further increase GAG loss from cartilage.

Using a 'worst-case scenario' system in which cartilage was subjected to mechanical injury and bombarded with immune system-stimulating bio-molecules (TNFα and IL-6) the glucocorticoid dexamethasone (DEX) was able to reduce GAG loss and restore proteoglycan synthesis levels to normal.

Prof Alan Grodzinsky from the MIT Center for Biomedical Engineering said, "Glucocorticoid injections are sometimes used to relieve the pain of established , but there are concerns about long-term use. Our results suggest that short-term glucocorticoid treatment after joint injury may help restore components of to preinjury levels and consequently may prevent the long term changes which lead to osteoarthritis."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Lubricin' molecule discovered to reduce cartilage wear

Oct 21, 2010

A team of researchers in North Carolina has discovered that lubricin, a synovial fluid glycoprotein, reduces wear to bone cartilage. This result, which has implications for the treatment of sufferers of osteoarthritis, will ...

Out of joint

Sep 19, 2008

As America's Baby Boomers jog into the 21st century, joint pain from the most common form of arthritis continues to be a number one disabler. Until now, there has been no way to diagnose the disease until it reaches an advanced ...

Stopping arthritis before it starts

Sep 02, 2011

About 27 million Americans suffer from arthritis, and more than three million of those cases result from a joint injury, often in the knee, that provokes slow and steady cartilage deterioration.

New test to diagnose osteoarthritis early

Aug 20, 2008

A newly developed medical imaging technology may provide doctors with a long-awaited test for early diagnosis of osteoarthritis (OA), scientists from New York reported today at the 236th National Meeting of the American Chemical ...

MRI techniques can detect early osteoarthritis

Aug 15, 2011

Researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center's Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Radiology found that advanced MRI techniques can be used to detect subtle changes in joint cartilage microstructure – and provide physicians ...

Recommended for you

New York 'fully prepared' to handle Ebola case: mayor

43 minutes ago

New York's mayor said America's largest city was fully equipped to handle Ebola as authorities sought to calm fears Friday about the virus spreading, after a doctor tested positive for the disease.

Two US nurses are declared cured of Ebola

44 minutes ago

Two American nurses were declared cured of Ebola on Friday, and one was healthy enough to leave hospital and make plans to meet President Barack Obama.

Aid group: No need to isolate staff treating Ebola

1 hour ago

Doctors Without Borders insisted Friday, after one of its doctors who worked in Guinea came down with Ebola in New York, that quarantines of health workers returning from the hot zone are not necessary when ...

New York on alert over first Ebola case

1 hour ago

New York went on alert Friday as authorities sought to calm fears among the city's 8.4 million residents after a doctor tested positive for Ebola.

User comments