Study finds why Osteoarthritis is more common in women than in men

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On the occasion of the celebration of Articulando el Deporte, los próximos 8, 9 y 10 de marzo en Madrid, recuperamos este artículo publicado hace un tiempo, en el que se explica la prevalencia de la artrosis en la mujer respecto al hombre.

Women suffer more from osteoarthritis than men. A group of experts from Augusta University in Georgia (USA) have discovered that the synovial fluid in the knee contains the clues that explain the reason for this difference.

The study finds very clear differences in the messages that cells send and receive through small RNA molecules, called microRNAs, in male and female osteoarthritis patients.
What are microRNAs?

Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a chain of small molecules called nucleotides that help the cell to synthesise proteins, which are vital for the proper functioning of cells and our bodies. In the cell we find short chains of 20 to 25 nucleotides, which we call microRNA and which, unlike RNA, are not translated into proteins. Their function is to act as switches for the expression of our genes. Depending on which microRNA we have, some genes will be activated or others.

Alterations in microRNAs

The researchers found that in men with osteoarthritis there were 50 altered biological processes due to differences with the microRNAs of healthy patients, while in women up to 70 processes were altered. In the study published in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers explain that the gender differences they found in synovial fluid are the key to explaining why osteoarthritis affects women more.

In women, they observed that microRNAs that should be sending joint-friendly messages such as promoting estrogen signalling and collagen-producing cells were either deactivated or functioning below normal.

The study also found that both women and men with osteoarthritis had a higher than normal concentration of a microRNA called MiR-504-3p. The researchers do not yet know the exact function of this molecule, but it is thought that it may be related to cartilage degeneration, the main root cause of osteoarthritis. The next step will therefore be to investigate whether inhibiting this molecule could slow down the development of the disease.

Article reference

Ravindra Kolhe, Monte Hunter, Siyang Liu, Ravirajsinh N. Jadeja, Chetan Pundkar, Ashis K. Mondal, Bharati Mendhe, Michelle Drewry, Mumtaz V. Rojiani, Yutao Liu, Carlos M. Isales, Robert E. Guldberg, Mark W. Hamrick & Sadanand Fulzele. Gender-specific differential expression of exosomal miRNA in synovial fluid of patients with osteoarthritis. Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 2029 (2017). doi:10.1038/s41598-017-01905-y

Study’s link: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-01905-y

One of the objectives of the OAFI Foundation is to help women, because of their great affectation in arthritic pathology. And the study once again reveals this need. That is why the OAFI Foundation develops specific programmes aimed at education, prevention and treatment. Find out what OAFI WOMAN puede hacer por ti. 

Image illustrating the article by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash