Researchers at the University of Liverpool have identified the way in which some cells alter their behavior at the onset of osteoarthritis (OA), which may lead to a more comprehensive understanding of this condition. The researchers from the university’s Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease has now discovered that changes in the rate at which molecules in joint cartilage, called mRNA, are created and destroyed are essential causing this change in behavior, according to a University of Liverpool news release.

These molecules act as a messenger, meaning information from the DNA in cells is carried by mRNA to areas of the cells that create the proteins which carry out its function, as indicated on the University of Liverpool news release. By upsetting this balance, the cells don’t function as effectively. The researchers compared cells isolated from patients with OA with those from healthy patients.

Simon Tew, PhD, senior lecturer in orthopaedic sciences, says, “Osteoarthritic cartilage cells have a significant number of genes whose mRNA is destroyed more rapidly than those in healthy cells. This affects some genes that we already know are involved in osteoarthritis as well as some that are less well studied.”

The results of the study show how the cells in joints stop working properly leading to arthritis and the researchers hope that by understanding this process, new treatments can be developed to address the problem, as noted on the University of Liverpool news release.

Tew states, “We’ve not discovered the cause of arthritis, but this does shed light on the process of how the disease manifests itself. To develop new drugs to treat one of the leading causes of disability requires the fullest possible understanding of the condition and this discovery is part of that overall picture.”

Source: University of Liverpool