Researchers have more evidence that males and females are different, this time in the fluid that helps protect the cartilage in their knee joints. They have found in the synovial fluid of this joint, clear differences in the messages cells are sending and receiving via tiny pieces of RNA, called microRNA, in males and females with the common and debilitating condition osteoarthritis. The differences may help explain why the disease is more common in women as it points toward a more targeted way to diagnose and treat this “wear and tear” arthritis, said Dr. Sadanand Fulzele, bone biologist in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) at Augusta University. Osteoarthritis, which affects more than 30 million Americans, is fundamentally a destruction of the cartilage that provides padding between our bones. “It’s a huge problem,” says Dr. Monte Hunter, Chair of the MCG Department of Orthopedic Surgery and a coauthor of the study published online on May 17, 2017 in Scientific Reports. The open-access article is titled “Gender-Specific Differential Expression of Exosomal miRNA in Synovial Fluid of Patients with Osteoarthritis.” Today’s treatment of osteoarthritis addresses symptoms, like inflammation and pain, and the bottom line for some patients is knee replacement. Clinicians like Hunter would like to provide patients additional options for diagnosing and treating this common malady of aging. Synovial fluid is known to provide clues about joint health, so MCG researchers decided to look at what messages cells in the region were sending and receiving by looking inside traveling compartments in the fluid called exosomes, says Dr. Fulzele, corresponding author. “What we found is there is no change in the number of exosomes, but a change in the microRNA cargo they carry,” Dr. Fulzele says.
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