New Test Could Diagnose Osteoarthritis Early
Could that ache in your knee or back be osteoarthritis? Are you having trouble opening jars? A new biochemical test called metabolomics could allow clinicians to diagnose osteoarthritis early and let patients get a jump on treating and managing the disease.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, far surpassing rheumatoid arthritis and gout in prevalence. In the United States, approximately 27 million adults have osteoarthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation, and in the United Kingdom, where the new study was conducted, the disease affects approximately 8.5 million people.
Researchers at King’s College London’s Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology have discovered a new biochemical test that allows scientists to test for 163 chemical signals from a single blood sample. Called metabolomics, the test measures chemical signals that are products of cell metabolism and their 26,000 metabolite ratios, which represent the rate of the chemical reactions in the body.
The researchers compared the metabolites and the 26,000 metabolite ratios in the blood samples from 123 white women who had osteoarthritis of the knee and 299 healthy women. They discovered that 14 metabolite ratios were significantly linked with osteoarthritis. When the scientists tested these signals in 76 women with knee osteoarthritis and 100 healthy women, they found that two ratios—valine to histidine and xleucine to histidine—were confirmed.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Guangju Zhai, explained that “the two novel metabolic biomarkers found through our study could indicate increased cartilage breakdown and we now want to study these mechanisms in more detail.” Osteoarthritis is known as “wear and tear” arthritis, as one of its main characteristics is damage to the cartilage that lines the bones and allows the joints to move without friction.