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New study from UArizona Health Sciences focuses on link between aging knee and osteoarthritis

Researchers at Arizona University of Health Sciences hope to determine whether changes in knee structure can predict clinical outcomes and treatments in people with osteoarthritis in a new study funded by a $2.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 32 million people in the United States suffer from osteoarthritis, with the knee being one of the most affected areas. No treatment is available to prevent the disease or halt its progression, in part due to difficulties in identifying which knees are most at risk for structural progression, such as loss of joint space width.

C. Kent Kwoh, MDis the director of UArizona Arthritis Center and head of Rheumatology department in the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson. He will lead the three-year study, “Healthy aging of the knee versus osteoarthritis in three large, diverse cohorts: what is the clinical relevance of structural changes seen on radiographs?” with funding from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, a division of the NIH.

Researchers hope to establish healthy ranges of knee structure in men and women between the ages of 45 and 90. They will assess whether changes in knee structure can predict pain, functional limitations, and the need for future knee replacements.

To do this, Dr. Kwoh and his team will review 76,000 x-rays and clinical data from 10,500 participants in three of the largest and most diverse osteoarthritis studies in the world: the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project , the Multicenter Osteoarthritis Study and the Osteoarthritis Study. Initiative.

“The distinction between the normal age-related decline in knee function and the loss of joint space width typical of progressive osteoarthritis of the knee is not known and represents an important knowledge gap,” said Dr Kwoh, who is also affiliated with the UArizona Health Sciences Comprehensive Pain and Addiction Center. “The study will examine the clinical relevance of changes in joint space width in terms of pain and function and perform an assessment of risk factors.”

The findings could eventually lead to new treatments for osteoarthritis. Assessing knee structure is a critical component in evaluating potential treatments for osteoarthritis, including FDA-regulated pharmacological approaches and non-pharmacological approaches.

Dr. Kwoh will lead a multidisciplinary research team that includes Edward J. Bedrick, PhDprofessor of biostatistics at UArizona College of Public Health Mel and Enid Zuckerman and a member of the BIO5 Institute, Zong-Ming Li, PhDAssociate Director of the UArizona Arthritis Center, Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Fellow of the BIO5 Institute, and Xiaoxiao Sun, PhDassistant professor of biostatistics at the Zuckerman College of Public Health and member of the BIO5 Institute, as well as expert collaborators in medical imaging, rheumatology and epidemiology at Harvard Medical School, the University of North Carolina and the University of Boston.

This research is supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health (1R01AR078187-01).