What is the role of aging in the etiology of osteoarthritis (OA)?

Updated: Oct 12, 2020
  • Author: Carlos J Lozada, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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With advancing age come reductions in cartilage volume, proteoglycan content, cartilage vascularization, and cartilage perfusion. These changes may result in certain characteristic radiologic features, including a narrowed joint space and marginal osteophytes. However, biochemical and pathophysiologic findings support the notion that age alone is an insufficient cause of osteoarthritis.

Senescent cells (SnCs) accumulate in many tissues with age and contribute to age-related pathologies. A study in mice by Jeon et al found that SnCs accumulated in the articular cartilage and synovium after anterior cruciate ligament transection, and selective elimination of SnCs attenuated the development of post-traumatic osteoarthritis, reduced pain, and increased cartilage development. In addition, selective removal of SnCs from in vitro cultures of chondrocytes isolated from patients with osteoarthritis undergoing total knee replacement resulted in decreased expression of senescent and inflammatory markers and increased expression of cartilage tissue extracellular matrix proteins. [44]

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