Osteoarthritis Breakthrough: New Therapeutic Approach Discovered

Knee Pain Osteoarthritis

Researchers have discovered that elevated levels of the protein c-Fos are associated with osteoarthritis severity, providing new insights into potential targeted therapies. Osteoarthritis, a debilitating joint disease affecting over 500 million globally, may be significantly influenced by this protein.

Advancements in understanding the disease could bring about a paradigm shift.

For a long time, osteoarthritis was believed to stem from wear and tear in our later years. However, recent research increasingly connects the breakdown of cartilage to inflammatory and metabolic activities within the joint. A breakthrough in understanding this condition has been made by a team of scientists spearheaded by MedUni Vienna. Their findings, offering a new perspective for diagnosis and treatment, were recently published in the journal Annals of Rheumatic Diseases.

The research was led by molecular geneticist Erwin Wagner from the Department of Laboratory Medicine and the Department of Dermatology at MedUni Vienna. Collaborating with peers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, they concentrated on a protein known as c-Fos. This protein has long been under the scientific lens for its association with bone and cartilage disorders.

As the current research also showed, cartilage samples from humans and mice with osteoarthritis (OA) have elevated levels of c-Fos. The protein is secreted by cartilage cells in response to OA signals and plays a role in protecting cartilage.

As part of their study, the research team has now discovered that c-Fos levels are linked to the severity of the course of OA. For example, analyses of animal models revealed that the absence of the protein in cartilage caused severe forms of joint disease.

Subsequently, the scientists deciphered the mechanism in the metabolism of cartilage cells that controls the production and accumulation of c-Fos. “Our findings are an important step towards the development of targeted therapies in the form of drugs based on the newly discovered control mechanism of c-Fos expression in cartilage cells,” says study leader Erwin Wagner, highlighting the high relevance of the research work.

More than 500 million people are affected worldwide

osteoarthritis is the most common degenerative joint disease that can occur in various joints. According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), the knees are affected in more than 300 million people worldwide, and the hips in around 240 million. Due to increasing risk factors such as obesity or aging of the population, the prevalence is expected to continue to rise.

The disease is associated with great pain, massively impairs the quality of life of those affected, and can also lead to disability due to the loss of joint function. Currently, therapeutic measures are mainly aimed at relieving pain, preserving joint function and mobility as much as possible, and reducing inflammation. The new insights now gained into the development and progression of OA could bring about a paradigm shift in the therapy of chronic joint disease and should be confirmed by further research.

Reference: “Metabolic rewiring controlled by c-Fos governs cartilage integrity in osteoarthritis” by Kazuhiko Matsuoka, Latifa Bakiri, Martin Bilban, Stefan Toegel, Arvand Haschemi, Hao Yuan, Maria Kasper, Reinhard Windhager and Erwin F Wagner, 11 August 2023, Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
DOI: 10.1136/ard-2023-224002

3 Comments on "Osteoarthritis Breakthrough: New Therapeutic Approach Discovered"

  1. I read this article some years back and immediately began taking NAC. It seems to work as I do a lot of hiking jogging but don’t have nay knee problems at all at almost 72 YO. Also bonus, seems to help hair growth!
    12 September 2018
    An antioxidant might lead to new therapies for bone arthritis

    An antioxidant food supplement widely used to treat conditions including paracetamol poisoning has shown promise in helping mice with osteoarthritis, the most common joint disorder in the world. The only existing treatments are painkillers and drugs that reduce inflammation, but nothing halts or reverses the condition.

    When researchers added N-acetyl cysteine, or NAC, to the drinking water they gave to mice with osteoarthritis, it reduced the level of joint damage to that seen in healthy, control mice. The main effect of the NAC was to stifle damage to cartilage tissue in joints, which is caused by a natural process in cells called oxidative stress.


  2. Charles G. Shaver | August 31, 2023 at 9:36 am | Reply

    Allergies and gout have plagued humanity for millennia. First diagnosed with asymptomatic gout (a high serum level of uric acid) in early 1981, following the onset of a then mysterious, serious episode of chronic fatigue, generalized aches, pains and muscle weakness and serious mood swings at age 37, I’ve since learned I’m mildly allergic to many common foods and food additives (e.g., dairy, beef, pork and added MSG and soy, minimally). Still not recognized and researched as true allergies by mainstream medicine, I’ve experienced a serious deficiency of calcium and a very serious deficiency of phosphorus from avoiding known allergens, for decades, and presently have slightly improved but still painful knees at age 79. While glucosamine/chondroitin and NAC may help to restore damaged cartilage, surely the old adage of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies to osteoarthritis. It is ignorant and incompetent for mainstream medicine to keep failing to recognize Dr. Arthur F. Coca’s (by 1935) kind of nearly subclinical non-IgE-mediated allergy reactions and the possible long-term consequences of excessive uric acid and the failed laboratory testing for nutritional deficiencies of so-called modern “evidence-based” medicine.

  3. Hi There,

    Where can I get more information regarding this treatment? I have osteoarthritis in my shoulder and none of the doctors I’ve spoken to have mentioned this at all.

    Is there are website/email/contact phone number? It would be greatly appreciated.

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