According to the Centers for Disease Control, women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis (OA) than men. Even though osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, scientists have not been able to find the reasons for this unequal trend.
A team of arthritis researchers from Augusta University (Kolhe et al.) have found new knowledge that can help explain why women may be at more risk for OA than men. The researchers looked at the “exosomes” (cellular packages filled with different substances our cells release to aid with cell communication) released in both male and female patients with OA.
The exosomes the researchers were concerned with were the ones that held microRNAs (miRNAs). miRNAs are short segments of RNA (a template in all cells that helps to transmit DNA instructions) that help to regulate how our body expresses the genes held in our DNA.
The results found that the miRNAs found in the exosomes studied behaved very differently in men and women. The differences lie in female miRNAs that have to do with collagen production and estrogen signaling; the female miRNAs were altered and deactivated more often than male miRNAs.
This difference led the researchers to look at estrogen's role in OA. What they found was that when estrogen levels dropped, there was an increase in the number of cells that break down bones. This correlation is important because when women enter menopause their estrogen levels drop possibly resulting in an increased susceptibility to OA and possibly explaining why women have OA more often than men.
The team's research into exosomes, microRNAs, and estrogen's role in osteoarthritis provides important new insights into why women may be more at risk for developing osteoarthritis than men. For more information on osteoarthritis and treatment solutions visit Arthritis Consumer Expert's spotlight on osteoarthritis.