Monday, September 16, 2013

Is Arthritis Genetic?

There is some debate among experts about the causes of arthritis. There are just so many different types that it is hard to pinpoint what actually will cause this disease. However one factor comes across as a prevalent one when it comes to considering this issue.

The one question you should ask when considering this issue is whether arthritis is genetic? There are many indications to prove that genetics have a large bearing on whether a person will develop certain forms of arthritis. There are so many types of arthritis that we cannot discuss all of them here. These are a few of the common ones.

Rheumatoid arthritis and the HLA-DR4 gene: Research shows that the HLA-DR4 gene is one of the main factors in whether a person will develop arthritis and how severely they will suffer from the disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is especially affected by this gene. This is partly due to the fact that this form of arthritis is linked with the malfunctioning of the immune system. This disease will create swollen and deformed joints.

Osteoarthritis also runs in families: I have personally seen this in my own family and research has shown this to be true. This form of arthritis is the wearing away of the cartilage and drying of the synovial fluid around the joint and is caused by wear and tear, but you will find some active people are more prone than others to this disease. Scientists have discovered that one of the factors affecting this is a genetic mutation in type II collagen that is present in some families. This leads to a faster breakdown of the joint cartilage. Because of these genetic factors you will find this type of arthritis running in families.

Ankylosing spondylitis: this form of arthritis affects people in their teens, 20's and 30's. It is a progressive disease that fuses the spine making it difficult for the patient to bend or stand up straight. The TASC or Australo-Anglo-American Spondylitis Consortium, identified genes ANTXR2 and IL1R2, IL23R and ERAP1 as being responsible for this type of arthritis. This proves the fact that genetics also play a role in whether some people will develop this type of arthritis.

In view of this evidence gene therapy is being researched widely to find permanent cures for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The first documented trials were done in 1996 and were done with rheumatoid arthritis patients, further research was then done with osteoarthritis.

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