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A French study may have found a major culprit in the development of osteoarthritis (OA)?leptin. Leptin, an obesity-related hormone, is produced in the body's fat tissue and regulates food intake and energy output. In a study of 20 patients with OA, the researchers tested for the presence of leptin in samples of synovial fluid and cartilage samples from the joints. Of the 20 participants, 11 were having knee replacement surgery and 9 were undergoing knee arthroscopy.
The researchers compared the expression of leptin in the cartilage of the OA patients with that found in normal tissue. Also, they compared the concentration of leptin found in the synovial fluid of the OA patients with their body mass index (BMI), as well as the level of their OA severity.The results showed that leptin concentrations correlated with high BMI, and leptin expression in OA joints related to the grade of cartilage destruction. The researchers concluded that more research is needed on the role of leptin throughout the course of OA. (The findings were published in the November 2003 issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism.)