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Telomere Study Hints at Causes of Osteoarthritis, Ageing

Both conditions associated with shortening of telomeres in leukocytes

FRIDAY, Oct. 13 (HealthDay News) -- There could be shared mechanisms between osteoarthritis and aging, according to a study of telomere length in leukocytes. The findings, which suggest that oxidative stress and chronic inflammation may play a role in both conditions, were published online Oct. 12 in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases.

Tim D. Spector, M.D., of St. Thomas' Hospital in London, U.K., and colleagues conducted a study of 1,086 subjects with a mean age of 55 years to examine the relationship between hand osteoarthritis and leukocyte telomere length (LTL), a bio-indicator of aging.

The LTL was inversely correlated with age as well as with osteoarthritis. The LTL was 178 bp shorter in the 160 subjects with hand osteoarthritis. There was also a significant association between LTL and semicontinuous measures of osteoarthritis, such as total Kellgren/Lawrence score, joint space narrowing score and osteophyte scores. The effects were observed even after adjusting for other influential factors such as obesity, age, sex and smoking.

"Shorter LTL equivalent to around 11 years of annual loss in normal people is associated with radiographic hand osteoarthritis and disease severity, suggesting potential shared mechanisms between osteoarthritis and aging, and implicating oxidative stress and low-level chronic inflammation in both conditions," the authors conclude.

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