The SEKOIA study, performed by researchers at University of Southampton, suggests that the presence of lesions may signal more rapidly progressing osteoarthritis.

The study, carried out by researchers from the university’s Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, included 176 men and women more than 50 years old. Participants had MRI scanning on their knees, then were followed up for an average of 3 years with repeated knee x-rays.

Those who were found to have abnormalities, such as lesions, on their first appointment were compared to those without to examine the effect on disease progression, explains a media release from University of Southampton.

Individuals with bone marrow lesions (BMLs) on their MRI scan were found to have osteoarthritis that progressed more rapidly than those that did not. On average, the space within the joint is lost at a rate of 0.15mm per year however the Southampton study shows that, overall, individuals with BMLs had a loss rate that was 0.10mm per year faster than those without BMLs. This may lead to earlier need for joint replacement or other intervention, the release continues.

“Osteoarthritis causes a significant burden to individuals and the healthcare system as a whole. If we can identify those people who may experience a rapid progression of the disease, this may be of benefit to both physicians and patients,” says study leader Mark Edwards, clinical lecturer in Rheumatology at the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, in the release.

“The next step would be to explore the mechanisms through which bone marrow lesions might influence the progression of osteoarthritis and whether this could lead to a novel treatment,” he adds.

The study was published recently in The Journal of Rheumatology.

[Source(s): University of Southampton, Science Daily]