RA Pathway Identified
Scientists have discovered a pathway—normally involved in halting inflammation—that does not function correctly in patients with inflammatory arthritis. This study, published in the journal Immunity
(April 23, 2010), was the first of its kind to connect this pathway to rheumatoid arthritis (RA), according to lead author Lionel Ivashkiv, MD, associate chief scientific officer at Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, New York. Ivashkiv and colleagues hope to uncover new therapeutic avenues for conditions like arthritis by identifying pathways involved in cytokine production.
It was previously known that immunoreceptor tyrosinebased activation motif (ITAM)-coupled receptors had an important function in regulating inflammation, but the mechanisms by which this happened were poorly understood. For this study, the researchers set out to determine what signaling pathways might be induced by the activation of ITAM-associated receptors. By using white blood cells similar to those that cause disease, the researchers found that activation of the ITAM receptor set off a pathway that was dependent on calcium signaling and hindered proinflammatory cytokine production.
Dr. Ivashkiv concluded: “What this study suggests is that one of the things that contributes to inflammation in arthritis is crippling of beneficial pathways that usually serve to turn inflammation off.” Future research may be devoted to developing therapies that will augment or reinstitute these pathways as a means of stopping inflammation in chronic arthritis.
Arthritis Watch Arthritis Risk Raised by Excess Weight, Lack of Exercise
Researchers have recently found that Americans have a higher incidence of arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitations (AAL), when compared with the Canadian population. This was primarily due to obesity and physical inactivity, especially among women, as the researchers from the Toronto Western Research Institute concluded in their article published in the March 2010 issue of Arthritis Care & Research
, an official journal of the American College of Rheumatology.
Elizabeth M. Badley, PhD, and Hina Ansari, MSc, analyzed data from the Joint Canada/United States Survey of Health, which was conducted in cooperation by Statistics Canada and the US National Center for Health Statistics during 2002- 2003. After reviewing the data from 3505 Canadians and 5183 Americans, Badley and Ansari obtained the following results:
• The prevalence of arthritis in Americans was 18.7%; AAL was 9.6%.
• The prevalence of arthritis in Canadians was 16.8%; AAL was 7.7%.
Upon further study, the researchers noted that the prevalence of arthritis in women in the United States was higher than in Canadian women (23.3% vs 19.6%, respectively). American women also had a higher prevalence of AAL, with a prevalence of 13.0% versus 9.2%. The overall occurrence of arthritis and AAL in men was similar in both countries—14% and 6%, respectively.
Moving Is the Best Medicine Against Arthritis
In recognition of May as Arthritis Awareness Month, the Arthritis Foundation is encouraging patients with arthritis and others to incorporate physical activity into their daily routine.
With the slogan, “Moving is the best medicine,” the Arthritis Foundation hopes to get individuals moving across the country. One of their efforts is the nationwide Arthritis Walk, which supports public awareness and raises funds to fight the debilitating disease. Interested individuals can obtain more information about the walk at www.letsmovetogether.org
. Invididuals can also visit www.fightarthritispain.org
for more resources.
The Arthritis Foundation suggests a strong need to further expand existing strategies to prevent and manage arthritis, including slight weight loss and physical activity, surrounding the results of a report from the May 2010 issue of Preventing Chronic Disease. The results of the study showed that, although the prevalence of arthritis is lower in African Americans and Hispanics, the burden of arthritis is higher in these groups— possibly due, in part, to the coinciding higher prevalence of activity limitation, work limitation, and severe joint pain.
The Arthritis Foundation reminds individuals that being active and losing small amounts of weight can help in preventing and decreasing the painful effects of arthritis. For example, for every 1 lb of weight loss, the load exerted on each knee is reduced by 4 lb. Self-management education programs and additional resources are available to help, at the Web sites listed above, for example. ■
In the United States, 46 million men, women, and children have physician-diagnosed arthritis.
➜More on the Web
For pharmacist-recommended products for arthritis, go to www.OTCGuide.net