Rats with Bad Knees Teach Researchers about Potential Treatment for Osteoarthritis

Rats with Bad Knees Teach Researchers about Potential Treatment for Osteoarthritis

By Staff.

A new report published in Nature Communications shows that having adenosine, which is a biochemical, plays a role in making and sustaining cartilage.  This finding may reveal potential treatments for most common joint diseases.

The molecule adenosine is derived from adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which plays a role in inflammation and diminishes with age.  The result is less natural adenosine in the body to make and sustain cartilage.  Until now, scientists had not linked diminished adenosine levels to osteoarthritis, the commonplace, “wear-and-tear” form of arthritis.

Researchers used rats with damage to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which is known to lead to osteoarthritis in humans.  They found that maintaining high levels of adenosine in the rats, prevented them from developing disease. If their findings translate to trials in humans, the researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center say adenosine replacement therapy could potentially delay the onset of osteoarthritis and the need for joint replacements.

“We found that if adenosine levels decrease, or if the capacity to respond to adenosine diminishes, cartilage starts to degenerate,” says study senior investigator Bruce Cronstein, MD, the Dr. Paul R. Esserman Professor of Medicine at NYU Langone. “Our study suggests that diminished ATP and adenosine production are likely contributing factors to the development of osteoarthritis in aging individuals,” says Cronstein, who also serves as the director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), and chief of the Division of Translational Medicine at NYU Langone.

The study suggests that greater risk for osteoarthritis may be driven not by lower adenosine levels alone.  Instead, they believe lower levels of the protein on the surface of chondrocytes designed to receive and pass on adenosine’s signal, are in play.

Adenosine helps to sustain such cells by fitting into a protein called the A2A adenosine receptor on their surfaces, like a key into a lock.  And, the researchers found that the mice lacking the A2A adenosine receptor did not walk as easily or as well as mice with the A2A receptor.  Radiologic examination of the knees of mice without the A2A receptor confirmed that they had osteoarthritis.

When they administered adenosine packaged in lipid bubbles into rats’ ACL injuries, Cronstein and team found that the excess adenosine prevented the development of osteoarthritis in the animals.

“Because joints may have to be replaced again and again, if we can put off the need for joint replacement until later in life, odds are that patients will only have to have this done once,” says Cronstein.

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Authored by: Staff

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Jean Price

Ibin…it’s especially sad to me when young people have the burden of pain and yet can’t receive appropriate care for it now! The current denial of effective medications is ONE of our national shames now, I believe. And I’m so sorry your son has been affected by not only his injury and failed surgery…but also the ridiculous path our pain care has taken in the last several years. As a former nurse, I remember back when we were so excited, due to the development and the resurgence of hospice care across the country, that pain care in general was being looked at much more closely…and as a result, pain care was improving dramatically! Medical science had begun to realize one size didn’t fit all people…for dosages or frequency of pain medication…and waiting that last fifteen minutes for four hours to be up before we gave a person their pain medication was not only unnecessary…it was NOT at all helpful in the long run, either! Because the more their pain increased, the harder it would be to get on top of! Plus pain creates inflammation which causes more pain…so healing can be delayed and other areas of the body can be affected negatively! We even began to realize that addiction was a non issue…whenever opioids were taken by the patient TO TREAT their PHYSICAL PAIN…and to improve their comfort and functioning! PAIN even became the 5th VITAL SIGN to be assessed…something so overlooked previously! So if a mediation wasn’t helping someone, the patient was encouraged to tell us this…and more or a different medication would be tried…instead of just ignoring this and letting them suffer…or judging them weak or a drug seeker! There was unfortunately still the mindset of a few who would harshly judge the person who came into the ER for a “shot” for a headache…when they looked to be in no acute distress. And there was still the overworked nurse who felt like certain patients just watched the clock for their pain medicine…instead of calling for it when their pain started up again! Most of the time…this was really more about the nurses feeling like they didn’t have adequate time to take care of what they deemed ” more seriously ill” patients…to be giving out pain meds “all the time”! And it had much less to do which a true assessment of the patient’s pain or their needs…and nothing to do with any “evils” of opioids themselves! Yet, over all I would say pain care was viewed much more appropriately and humanely! And so we’re people with pain! I remember reading an article about this back in 1994, praising better pain care! They also talked about something called “pseudo addiction” which was a term coined to describe people with long term pain who DID NOT EVEN USE ENOUGH PAIN MEDICINE! Mostly because they were conscientious, AND they wanted to still function, without any side effect of drowsiness or difficulty being alert! Doctors would coach their patients to not… Read more »

Ibin Aiken

The discovery of ATP may in fact help those with cartilage damage and failure to replenish itself….in the future. My 27 year old son hurt his knee, quite accidentally and the orthopedic doctor, whom I knew, advised me that the damage incurred was in fact “repairable” with ONE surgery. After two surgeries one week apart, reoccurring infections, and the ultimately release from his care cost my son four more years of treatment and an artificial knee replacement……at TWO other care facilities in mid North Carolina. It started at 27 years old and he was 31 plus when finally release from orthopedic care. This is not an exceptional case but, becoming MORE the “normal”. he suffers and I do mean suffers daily /nightly with consistent severe pain. As usual, according to the CDC “misguided-line?, he was reduced in very helpful opioid therapy dosage. He teches high school biology and chemistry. At this date he is VERY unsure of being able to continue teaching and supporting his family. He is now 37 years old. I realize that the “cause” to amend or abolish the mis-guide-line is not furthered by sharing his narrative but, it is confirmation of the asinine method the CDC is attempting to curb opioid abuse and their commune-istic approach.