University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Erlangen, Germany, scientists have revealed that measuring the level of vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1) can help predict the severity of osteoarthritis.
It was found to be a strong predictor of hip and knee joint replacement due to severe OA.
During the study, lead researcher Georg Schett of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Erlangen, Germany looked at 912 healthy individuals in Bruneck, Italy, 60 of whom underwent hip or knee replacement surgery due to severe OA.
Their blood samples were analyzed for VCAM-1, a sialoglycoprotein (a combination sugar and protein) expressed on cells in the cartilage and connective tissue.
The results showed that VCAM-1 levels were substantially elevated in the 60 individuals who underwent joint replacement, with the highest baseline levels seen in those who underwent bilateral joint replacement. The level of VCAM-1 emerged as a significant predictor of the risk of joint replacement due to severe OA, equaling or even surpassing the effects of age," the authors state.
They revealed that inclusion of VCAM-1 levels in risk prediction models resulted in a more accurate classification of individuals.
The authors suggest that increased VCAM-1 levels can mirror active cartilage damage or an inflammatory component in OA.
"Further clarification of the mechanism underlying the association between VCAM-1 level and OA may well contribute to a better understanding of disease etiology," the authors added.
They said that improved prediction of severe OA would help identify patients for treatment interventions such as aerobic exercise, strength training and weight loss and might also help tailor therapeutic measures.
The study is published in Arthritis and Rheumatism.