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Joint Pain Forum – News you can use!

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"Genes may affect osteoporosis," osteoarthritis studies show”


Reports are that "scientists have found a gene that may affect the odds of developing osteoporosis." It is called the DARC [Duffy antigen receptor for chemokines] gene, and it "makes a protein needed to help break down bone," according to research on mice published in today's issue of Genome Research. Medical News Today (3/29) adds that according to lead researcher, Dr. Subburaman Mohan, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the Loma Linda VA Medical Center and a professor of medicine and biochemistry at Loma Linda University, "interesting differences between African Americans and Caucasians" could be associated with the DARC gene. Dr. Mohan explained, "African Americans exhibit significantly higher BMD compared to Caucasians. Also, African Americans generally do not have the Duffy protein on red blood cells, while Caucasians do."

Also reported on 3/28/07 was that a gene mutation that may be linked to osteoarthritis. Variations in a cartilage gene, GDF5, "may increase the odds of developing osteoarthritis," according to two studies on Japanese and Chinese patients, which was published in Nature Genetics.

Additionally, HealthDay (3/29, Billingsley) reports that the protein decoy receptor 3 (DcR3), a member of the large tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR), may be linked to rheumatoid arthritis, according to research published in the April issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism. The researchers found that that "DcR3 works with another member of the TNFR family to slow the normal cell death of synovial fluid cells, resulting in the hyperplasia that causes some of the inflammation characteristic of RA." While "DcR3 was present in the same amounts in the fluids of both the RA and osteoarthritis patients, when the TNFa was introduced, DcR3 production increased in the fluid of the RA patients, slowing down the Fas-induced cell death. The rate of cell death did not change in the fluid of the osteoarthritis patients."

Arthritis pain may be exacerbated by fear, emotions. Medpage Today (3/29, Osterweil) reports that "scans suggest that arthritis pain and fear go hand in hand." A study in the April issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism indicates that "when arthritis patients feel knee pain, regions of the brain involved in processing of fear, emotions and aversive conditioning -- the medial pain matrix -- light up on PET scans."

HealthDay (3/29) adds that the brain activity of "12 people with knee osteoarthritis" was measured as the patients "experienced osteoarthritis pain, pain caused by heat application, and no pain." While "both osteoarthritis and heat-induced pain activated" two parallel systems (lateral and medial) of the brain's pain matrix, "osteoarthritis pain caused heightened activity in the medial pain system. This suggests that arthritis pain may have more of an emotional impact and stronger association with fear and distress than experimental pain, the researchers said." Moreover, they found that "osteoarthritis pain triggered increased activity in the prefrontal cortex and the inferior posterior parietal cortex." The activation of these areas "during osteoarthritis pain may be the result of patients' focusing on strategies to cope with their arthritis pain, the researchers said." WebMD (3/29, Boyles) provides a summary of an interview with lead author Anthony K.P. Jones, M.D., professor of neuro-rheumatology, University of Manchester Rheumatic Diseases Center, Manchester, England, who said, "the fact that high concentrations of natural opiates are found in the medial pain system has implication for researchers searching for new drugs to treat arthritis and other chronic pain conditions."

Additionally, HealthDay (3/29) includes a summary of a study, which appeared in this week's Journal of Neuroscience, on pinpointing areas of the brain that "are involved in determining the location of pain."

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