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1.  Self-reported adult footwear and the risks of lower limb osteoarthritis: the GOAL case control study 
Biomechanical factors may play a role in osteoarthritis (OA) development and progression. Previous biomechanical studies have indicated that types of footwear may modulate forces across the knee joint, and high heeled womens’ shoes in particular are hypothesised to be detrimental to lower limb joint health. This analysis of data from a case control study investigated persistent users of different adult footwear for risks of knee and hip OA. Our underlying hypotheses were that high heeled, narrow heeled, and hard soled shoe types were putative risk factors for lower limb OA.
Data on footwear were initially obtained from participants during the Genetics of Osteoarthritis and Lifestyle (GOAL) hospital-based, case control study using standardised interview-delivered questionnaires. An additional questionnaire was later sent to GOAL study participants to verify findings and to further investigate specific shoe use per decade of life. Persistent users of footwear types (high or narrow heel; sole thickness or hardness) were identified from early adulthood. Participants were grouped into single sex knee OA, hip OA or control groups. Adjusted odds ratios (aOR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) were calculated.
Univariate analysis of persistent users of women’s high heeled and narrow heeled shoes during early adulthood showed negative associations with knee OA and hip OA. After logistic regression, persistent narrow heel users were associated with less risk of OA (knee OA aOR 0.59, 95% CI 0.35 – 1.00 and hip aOR: 0.50, 95% CI 0.30 – 0.85), and other analyses were not statistically significant. Further analysis suggested that women with hip OA may have stopped wearing high and narrow heeled footwear to attenuate hip pain in early adulthood. Consistent associations between shoe soles and OA were not found.
In general, persistent users of high and narrow heeled shoes during early adulthood had a negative association with knee or hip OA. This does not necessarily imply a causal relationship, as changing footwear during early adulthood to modulate index joint pain may provide a possible explanation. Despite the findings of previous biomechanical studies of high heels, we did not find a positive association between women’s shoes and lower limb osteoarthritis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-308) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4190490  PMID: 25240981
Footwear; Osteoarthritis; Hip; Knee; Shoe
2.  The association between ANKH promoter polymorphism and chondrocalcinosis is independent of age and osteoarthritis: results of a case–control study 
Chondrocalcinosis (CC) most commonly results from calcium pyrophosphate crystal deposition (CPPD). The objective of this study is to examine the association between candidate single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and radiographic CC.
SNPs in ankylosis human (ANKH), high ferritin (HFE), tissue non-specific alkaline phosphatase (TNAP), ecto-neucleotide pyrophosphatase 1 (ENPP1), and transferrin (TE) genes were genotyped in participants of the Genetics of Osteoarthritis and Lifestyle (GOAL) and Nottingham Osteoarthritis Case-Control studies. Adjusted genotype odds ratio (aORGENOTYPE), the OR for association between one additional minor allele and CC, was calculated and adjusted for age, gender, body mass index (BMI), and osteoarthritis (OA) by using binary logistic regression. Statistical significance was set at P ≤0.003 after Bonferroni correction for multiple tests.
The -4bpG > A polymorphism in the 5′ untranslated region (5′ UTR) of ANKH associated with CC after Bonferroni correction. This was independent of age, gender, OA, and BMI; aORGENOTYPE (95% confidence interval, or CI) was 1.39 (1.14-1.69) (P = 0.001). rs3045 and rs875525, two other SNPs in ANKH, associated with CC; aORGENOTYPE (95% CI) values were 1.31 (1.09-1.58) (P = 0.005) and 1.18 (1.03-1.35) (P = 0.015), respectively; however, this was non-significant after Bonferroni correction.
This study validates the association between a functional polymorphism in the 5′ UTR of ANKH and CC and shows for the first time that this is independent of age and OA – the two key risk factors for CC. It shows that other SNPs in ANKH may also associate with CC. This supports the role of extracellular inorganic pyrophosphate in the pathogenesis of CC. The findings of this hospital-based study require replication in a community-based population.
PMCID: PMC3978851  PMID: 24467728
3.  Evidence of changes to skeletal muscle contractile properties during the initiation of disease in the ageing guinea pig model of osteoarthritis 
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disorder in the world and represents the leading cause of pain and disability in the elderly population. Advancing age remains the single greatest risk factor for OA. Several studies have characterised disease development in the guinea pig ageing model of OA in terms of its joint histopathology and inflammatory cytokine profile. However, the quadriceps muscle has yet to be studied in relation to age-related disease onset or early disease progression. Therefore, we examined whether the initiation of OA in the Dunkin Hartley guinea pig is associated with changes in the quadriceps skeletal muscle. Male Dunkin Hartley guinea pigs (N = 24) were group housed with free access to standard guinea pig chow and water. At 2, 3, 5 and 7 months of age, six animals were selected based on their proximity to the median weight of the cohort. OA severity was graded at each time point by the assessment of toluidine blue stained step coronal sections of the total knee joint. Serum CTX II was measured as a potential biomarker of OA severity. Myosin Heavy Chain (MHC) isoforms were determined by a validated real-time PCR assay. Oxidative and glycolytic potential was determined in quadriceps homogenates via the measurement of ICDH and LDH activity.
Initiation of OA in the DH strain guinea pig occurred between 2 and 3 months of age and progressed until 7 months when the final analyses were conducted. Serum CTX II significantly decreased during this early period of OA initiation and levels were unrelated to the histopathological severity of knee OA at any of the time points assessed. MHC mRNA measurements revealed a significant elevation in MHC IIX mRNA (associated with fast-twitch skeletal muscle fibres) coincident with the initiation of OA at 3 months of age, with preliminary findings suggestive of a positive correlation to OA severity at this time point.
These preliminary findings suggest that disease initiation in the ageing guinea pig model of OA is not associated with overt quadriceps muscle atrophy but instead is coincident with altered expression of mRNAs associated with quadriceps skeletal muscle contractile properties (specifically fast-twitch MHC IIX).
PMCID: PMC4177544  PMID: 24472412
Ageing; Age-related; Dunkin Hartley; Myosin heavy chain; Osteoarthritis
4.  A Role for PACE4 in Osteoarthritis Pain: Evidence from Human Genetic Association and Null Mutant Phenotype 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2012;71(6):1042-1048.
To assess if genetic variation in the PACE4 gene, PCSK6, influences the risk for symptomatic knee OA.
Ten PCSK6 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) were tested for association in a discovery cohort of radiographic knee OA (n= 156 asymptomatic and 600 symptomatic cases). Meta-analysis of the minor allele at rs900414 was performed in three additional independent cohorts (total n=674 asymptomatic and 2068 symptomatic). Pcsk6 knockout (KO) mice and wildtype C57BL/6 mice were compared in a battery of algesiometric assays, including hypersensitivity in response to intraplantar substance P; pain behaviours in response to intrathecal substance P; and pain behaviour in the abdominal constriction test.
In the discovery cohort of radiographic knee OA, an intronic SNP at rs900414 was significantly associated with symptomatic OA. Replication in three additional cohorts confirmed that the minor allele at rs900414 was consistently increased among asymptomatic compared to symptomatic radiographic knee OA cases in all four cohorts. A fixed-effects meta-analysis yielded an odds ratio =1.35 (95% CI 1.17, 1.56; p-value 4.3×10−5 and no significant between-study heterogeneity). Studies in mice revealed that Pcsk6 knockout (KO) mice were significantly protected against pain in a battery of algesiometric assays.
These results suggest that a variant in PCSK6 is strongly associated with protection against pain in knee OA, offering some insight as to why in the presence of the same structural damage, some individuals develop chronic pain and others are protected. Studies in Pcsk6 null mutant mice further implicate PACE4 in pain.
PMCID: PMC3603144  PMID: 22440827
Knee osteoarthritis; pain; PACE4; genetic association; SNP
5.  Gene-environment interaction between body mass index and transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGFβ1) gene in knee and hip osteoarthritis 
The objective was to investigate potential gene-environment interaction between body mass index (BMI) and each of eight TGFβ1 polymorphisms in knee and hip osteoarthritis (OA).
We conducted a case-control study of Caucasian men and women aged 45 to 86 years from Nottingham, United Kingdom (Genetics of OA and Lifestyle (GOAL) study). Cases had clinically severe symptoms and radiographic knee or hip OA; controls had no symptoms and no radiographic knee/hip OA. We used logistic regression to investigate the association of TGFβ1 polymorphisms and OA when stratifying by BMI. Knee and hip OA were analyzed separately with adjustment for potential confounders. Additive and multiplicative interactions were examined.
2,048 cases (1,042 knee OA, 1,006 hip OA) and 967 controls were studied. For hip OA, the highest risk was in overweight (BMI ≥25 kg/m2) individuals with the variant allele of single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs1800468 (odds ratio (OR) 2.21, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.55, 3.15). Evaluation of gene-environment interaction indicated significant synergetic interaction (relative excess risk due to interaction (RERI) = 0.93, synergy index (SI) = 4.33) with an attributable proportion due to interaction (AP) of 42% (AP = 0.42; 95% CI 0.16, 0.68). Multiplicative interaction was also significant (OR for interaction (ORINT) = 2.27, P = 0.015). For knee OA, the highest risk was in overweight individuals with homozygous genotype 11 of SNP rs2278422 (OR = 6.95, P <0.001). In contrast, the variant allele indicated slightly lower risks (OR = 4.72, P <0.001), a significant antagonistic interaction (RERI = -2.66, SI = 0.59), AP = -0.56 (95%CI -0.94, -0.17) and a significant multiplicative interaction (ORINT = 0.47, P = 0.013).
TGFβ1 gene polymorphisms interact with being overweight to influence the risk of large joint OA.
PMCID: PMC4060375  PMID: 23597094
6.  Chondrocalcinosis is common in the absence of knee involvement 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(5):R205.
We aimed to describe the distribution of radiographic chondrocalcinosis (CC) and to examine whether metacarpophalangeal joint (MCPJ) calcification and CC at other joints occurs in the absence of knee involvement.
This was a cross-sectional study embedded in the Genetics of Osteoarthritis and Lifestyle study (GOAL). All participants (n = 3,170) had radiographs of the knees, hands, and pelvis. These were scored for radiographic changes of osteoarthritis (OA), for CC at knees, hips, symphysis pubis, and wrists, and for MCPJ calcification. The prevalence of MCPJ calcification and CC overall, at each joint, and in the presence or absence of knee involvement, was calculated.
The knee was the commonest site of CC, followed by wrists, hips, and symphysis pubis. CC was more likely to be bilateral at knees and wrists but unilateral at hips. MCPJ calcification was usually bilateral, and less common than CC at knees, hips, wrists, and symphysis pubis. Unlike that previously reported, CC commonly occurred without any knee involvement; 44.4% of wrist CC, 45.9% of hip CC, 45.5% of symphysis pubis CC, and 31.3% of MCPJ calcification occurred in patients without knee CC. Those with meniscal or hyaline articular cartilage CC had comparable ages (P = 0.21), and neither preferentially associated with fibrocartilage CC at distant joints.
CC visualized on a plain radiograph commonly occurs at other joints in the absence of radiographic knee CC. Therefore, knee radiographs alone are an insufficient screening test for CC. This has significant implications for clinical practice, for epidemiologic and genetic studies of CC, and for the definition of OA patients with coexistent crystal deposition.
PMCID: PMC3580517  PMID: 23036436
7.  Large Scale Replication Study of the Association between HLA Class II/BTNL2 Variants and Osteoarthritis of the Knee in European-Descent Populations 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23371.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis and a major cause of disability. This study evaluates the association in Caucasian populations of two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) mapping to the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) region and deriving from a genome wide association scan (GWAS) of knee OA in Japanese populations. The frequencies for rs10947262 were compared in 36,408 controls and 5,749 knee OA cases from European-descent populations. rs7775228 was tested in 32,823 controls and 1,837 knee OA cases of European descent. The risk (major) allele at rs10947262 in Caucasian samples was not significantly associated with an odds ratio (OR)  = 1.07 (95%CI 0.94 -1.21; p = 0.28). For rs7775228 the meta-analysis resulted in OR = 0.94 (95%CI 0.81-1.09; p = 0.42) for the allele associated with risk in the Japanese GWAS. In Japanese individuals these two SNPs are in strong linkage disequilibrium (LD) (r2 = 0.86) with the HLA class II haplotype DRB1*1502 DQA1*0103 DQB1*0601 (frequency 8%). In Caucasian and Chinese samples, using imputed data, these SNPs appear not to be in LD with that haplotype (r2<0.07). The rs10947262 and rs7775228 variants are not associated with risk of knee OA in European descent populations and they do not appear tag the same HLA class II haplotype as they do in Japanese individuals.
PMCID: PMC3154440  PMID: 21853121
8.  Bone marrow lesions from osteoarthritis knees are characterized by sclerotic bone that is less well mineralized 
Although the presence of bone marrow lesions (BMLs) on magnetic resonance images is strongly associated with osteoarthritis progression and pain, the underlying pathology is not well established. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the architecture of subchondral bone in regions with and without BMLs from the same individual using bone histomorphometry.
Postmenopausal female subjects (n = 6, age 48 to 90 years) with predominantly medial compartment osteoarthritis and on a waiting list for total knee replacement were recruited. To identify the location of the BMLs, subjects had a magnetic resonance imaging scan performed on their study knee prior to total knee replacement using a GE 1.5 T scanner with a dedicated extremity coil. An axial map of the tibial plateau was made, delineating the precise location of the BML. After surgical removal of the tibial plateau, the BML was localized using the axial map from the magnetic resonance image and the lesion excised along with a comparably sized bone specimen adjacent to the BML and from the contralateral compartment without a BML. Cores were imaged via microcomputed tomography, and the bone volume fraction and tissue mineral density were calculated for each core. In addition, the thickness of the subchondral plate was measured, and the following quantitative metrics of trabecular structure were calculated for the subchondral trabecular bone in each core: trabecular number, thickness, and spacing, structure model index, connectivity density, and degree of anisotropy. We computed the mean and standard deviation for each parameter, and the unaffected bone from the medial tibial plateau and the bone from the lateral tibial plateau were compared with the affected BML region in the medial tibial plateau.
Cores from the lesion area displayed increased bone volume fraction but reduced tissue mineral density. The samples from the subchondral trabecular lesion area exhibited increased trabecular thickness and were also markedly more plate-like than the bone in the other three locations, as evidenced by the lower value of the structural model index. Other differences in structure that were noted were increased trabecular spacing and a trend towards decreased trabecular number in the cores from the medial location as compared with the contralateral location.
Our preliminary data localize specific changes in bone mineralization, remodeling and defects within BMLs features that are adjacent to the subchondral plate. These BMLs appear to be sclerotic compared with unaffected regions from the same individual based on the increased bone volume fraction and increased trabecular thickness. The mineral density in these lesions, however, is reduced and may render this area to be mechanically compromised, and thus susceptible to attrition.
PMCID: PMC2688243  PMID: 19171047
9.  The Ile585Val TRPV1 variant is involved in risk of painful knee osteoarthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;70(9):1556-1561.
To assess if a coding variant in the gene encoding transient receptor potential cation channel, subfamily V, member 1 (TRPV1) is associated with genetic risk of painful knee osteoarthritis (OA).
The Ile585Val TRPV1 variant encoded by rs8065080 was genotyped in 3270 cases of symptomatic knee OA, 1098 cases of asymptomatic knee OA and 3852 controls from seven cohorts from the UK, the USA and Australia. The genetic association between the low-pain genotype Ile–Ile and risk of symptomatic and asymptomatic knee OA was assessed.
The TRPV1 585 Ile–Ile genotype, reported to be associated with lower thermal pain sensitivity, was associated with a lower risk of symptomatic knee OA in a comparison of symptomatic cases with healthy controls, with an odds ratio (OR) of 0.75 (95% CI 0.64 to 0.88; p=0.00039 by meta-analysis) after adjustment for age, sex and body mass index. No difference was seen between asymptomatic OA cases and controls (OR=1.02, 95% CI 0.82 to 1.27 p=0.86) but the Ile–Ile genotype was associated with lower risk of symptomatic versus asymptomatic knee OA adjusting for covariates and radiographic severity (OR=0.73, 95% CI 0.57 to 0.94 p=0.0136). TRPV1 expression in articular cartilage was increased by inflammatory cytokines (tumour necrosis factor α and interleukin 1). However, there were no differences in TRPV1 expression in healthy and arthritic synovial tissue.
A genotype involved in lower peripheral pain sensitivity is significantly associated with a decreased risk of painful knee OA. This indicates a role for the pro-nociceptive gene TRPV1 in genetic susceptibility to symptomatic knee OA, which may also be influenced by a role for this molecule in cartilage function.
PMCID: PMC3147243  PMID: 21616913
10.  Genetic contribution to radiographic severity in osteoarthritis of the knee 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;71(9):1537-1540.
Knee osteoarthritis (OA) has a significant genetic component. The authors have assessed the role of three variants reported to influence risk of knee OA with p<5×10–8 in determining patellofemoral and tibiofemoral Kellgren Lawrence (K/L) grade in knee OA cases.
3474 knee OA cases with sky-line and weight-bearing antero-posterior x-rays of the knee were selected based on the presentation of K/L grade ≥2 at either the tibiofemoral or patellofemoral compartments for one or both knees. Patients belonging to three UK cohorts, were genotyped for rs143383, rs4730250 and rs11842874 mapping to the GDF5, COG5 and MCF2L genes, respectively. The association between tibiofemoral K/L grade and patellofemoral K/L grade was assessed after adjusting for age, gender and body mass index.
No significant association was found between the rs4730250 and radiographic severity. The rs11842874 mapping to MCF2L was found to be nominally significantly associated with patellofemoral K/L grade as a quantitative trait (p=0.027) but not as a binary trait. The GDF5 single nucleotide polymorphism rs143383 was associated with tibiofemoral K/L grade (β=0.05 (95% CI 0.02 to 0.08) p=0.0011).
Our data indicate that within individuals affected by radiographic knee OA, OAGDF5 has a modest but significant effect on radiographic severity after adjustment for the major risk factors.
PMCID: PMC3414227  PMID: 22615457
11.  The genetic contribution to severe post-traumatic osteoarthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2013;72(10):1687-1690.
to compare the combined role of genetic variants loci associated with risk of knee or hip osteoarthritis (OA) in post-traumatic (PT) and non-traumatic (NT) cases of clinically severe OA leading to total joint replacement.
A total of 1590 controls, 2168 total knee replacement (TKR) cases (33.2% PT) and 1567 total hip replacement (THR) cases (8.7% PT) from 2 UK cohorts were genotyped for 12 variants previously reported to be reproducibly associated with risk of knee or hip OA. A genetic risk score was generated and the association with PT and NT TKR and THR was assessed adjusting for covariates.
For THR, each additional genetic risk variant conferred lower risk among PT cases (OR=1.07, 95% CI 0.96 to 1.19; p=0.24) than NT cases (OR 1.11, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.17; p=1.55×10−5). In contrast, for TKR, each risk variant conferred slightly higher risk among PT cases (OR 1.12, 95% CI 1.07 to 1.19; p=1.82×10−5) than among NT cases (OR 1.08, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.1; p=0.00063).
Based on the variants reported to date PT TKR cases have at least as high a genetic contribution as NT cases.
PMCID: PMC3786638  PMID: 23355107
Osteoarthritis; Gene Polymorphism; Epidemiology
12.  The effect of FTO variation on increased osteoarthritis risk is mediated through body mass index: a mendelian randomisation study 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2013;73(12):2082-2086.
Variation in the fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) gene influences susceptibility to obesity. A variant in the FTO gene has been implicated in genetic risk to osteoarthritis (OA). We examined the role of the FTO polymorphism rs8044769 in risk of knee and hip OA in cases and controls incorporating body mass index (BMI) information.
5409 knee OA patients, 4355 hip OA patients and up to 5362 healthy controls from 7 independent cohorts from the UK and Australia were genotyped for rs8044769. The association of the FTO variant with OA was investigated in case/control analyses with and without BMI adjustment and in analyses matched for BMI category. A mendelian randomisation approach was employed using the FTO variant as the instrumental variable to evaluate the role of overweight on OA.
In the meta-analysis of all overweight (BMI≥25) samples versus normal-weight controls irrespective of OA status the association of rs8044769 with overweight is highly significant (OR[CIs] for allele G=1.14 [01.08 to 1.19], p=7.5×10−7). A significant association with knee OA is present in the analysis without BMI adjustment (OR[CIs]=1.08[1.02 to 1.14], p=0.009) but the signal fully attenuates after BMI adjustment (OR[CIs]=0.99[0.93 to 1.05], p=0.666). We observe no evidence for association in the BMI-matched meta-analyses. Using mendelian randomisation approaches we confirm the causal role of overweight on OA.
Our data highlight the contribution of genetic risk to overweight in defining risk to OA but the association is exclusively mediated by the effect on BMI. This is consistent with what is known of the biology of the FTO gene and supports the causative role of high BMI in OA.
PMCID: PMC4251538  PMID: 23921993
Osteoarthritis; Knee Osteoarthritis; Gene Polymorphism; Epidemiology
13.  Structural transition in chromatin induced by ions in solution 
Nucleic Acids Research  1977;4(11):3839-3854.
Structural transition in chromatin was measured as a function of counter ions in solution (NaCl or MgCl2) and of histones bound on the DNA. The addition of counter ions to aqueous solutions of chromatin, partially dehistonized chromatin, and DNA caused a drastic reduction in viscosity and a significant increase in sedimentation coefficient. Transitions occurred primarily at about 2 × 10−3 M NaCl and 1 × 10−5 M MgCl2 and are interpreted as a change in structure of chromatin induced by tight binding of cations (Na+ or Mg++) to DNA, either free or bound by histones, and is an intrinsic property of DNA rather than of the type of histone bound. At a given ionic condition, removal of histone H1 from chromatin had only a minor effect on the hydrodynamic properties of chromatin while removal of other histones caused a drastic change in these properties. An increase in the sedimentation coefficient of DNA was observed also for protamine. DNA complexes wherein the bound protein contains only unordered coil rather than the α-helices found in histones.
PMCID: PMC343204  PMID: 593889

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