If you haven’t already please watch part 1 of Is Osteoarthritis Genetic as you need to understand what the study of epigenetics is before you see what a break through this bit of research is.
For many years the nature vs nurture argument has raged and I assume as you are asking the question “Is osteoarthritis genetic” you want to know if there is anything you can do about your genetics.
The answer is not yet but this new research, to me, is the best bit of news for many years. It really could pave the way for that magic pill so many are waiting for.
Epigenetics has shown that if you reverse behaviour then you can reduce the risks associated with that behaviour. An easy example is the risks associated with smoking. We have known for many years if you give up smoking then over time all the risks associated with smoking reduce and eventually you are not at any greater risk of, say lung cancer, than someone who has never smoked.
From the study of epigenetics we now know that this is because the smoke is no longer influencing our DNA and causing it to mutate and become cancerous.
In osteoarthritis cartilage becomes degenerated but arguments have raged whether this is cause by genetics or whether it is old trauma that causes it. Personally I have always been more in the trauma camp as I have never met a person with osteoarthritis in all 360 joints in the body. But I believed that bad genes made a minor trauma in one person cause them to have osteoarthritis while, because another person had better genetics then they could have a more major trauma and they would get away with it.
Epigenetics answers the question is osteoarthritis genetic
The answer is yes but not in the hereditary sense. It is the influence of outside factors that cause our genes to behave differently but it does not change the gene itself. An enzyme called MMP13 is known to cause the cartilage degeneration but up to now it was thought that this was simply produced by some people with certain DNA.
This article in News Medical explains how important a role epigenetics plays in answering the question “Is Osteoarthritis Genetic”
It also says and I agree wholeheartedly with Dr. Young here:
“This enzyme is known to play a role in the destruction of joint cartilage, making MMP13 and the epigenetic changes that lead to its increased levels, prime targets for osteoarthritis drug development.
“As the population gets older, osteoarthritis presents increasing social and economic problems,” said David A. Young, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Musculoskeletal Research Group at the Institute of Cellular Medicine at Newcastle University in Newcastle upon Tyne in the United Kingdom. “Our work provides a better understanding of the events that cause cartilage damage during osteoarthritis and provides hope that tailored drug development to prevent the progress of disease will improve the quality of life and mobility of many arthritis sufferers.”
So Is Osteoarthritis Genetic
Yes it is but our genes are being influenced by what we did and still do.
This is pure speculation but is this how glucosamine sulphate may seem to lay down new cartilage- does it influence the genes of some people? Just a though for any researcher out there….
The scariest part is it is also how our parents and grandparents behaved that can influence how our genes behave.
As Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal (where this research was published) says in the article
“This study not only lays the groundwork for a new understanding of osteoarthritis, but also shows that the old ‘either/or’ nature v. nurture argument is outdated: epigenetics teaches us that nature (the daily wear and tear of joints) regulates nurture (the genes in our cartilage) to cause arthritis.”
OK that has made me worry as I had both my kids when I was already diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Does that increase their risk of suffering it early? The good news is for them there may be that “magic pill” by then which stop MMP13 from being produced and stop degeneration from occurring.
The new answer to the question is osteoarthritis genetic is that it is indeed genetic but that we can influence and modify the effects of our genes by behaviour. Good news all round and it means the simple lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise all the more important as it appears these changes affect us at genetic level.
Sign up for my free course, Pain Management for Osteoarthritis and maybe you can manipulate your genes!