Relationships amongst osteoarthritis biomarkers, dynamic knee joint load, and exercise: results from a randomized controlled pilot study.

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Hunt, Michael A
Pollock, Courtney L
Kraus, Virginia Byers
Saxne, Tore
Peters, Sue
Peters, Sue
Huebner, Janet L
Sayre, Eric C
Cibere, Jolanda

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BACKGROUND: Little is known about the relationships of circulating levels of biomarkers of cartilage degradation with biomechanical outcomes relevant to knee osteoarthritis (OA) or biomarker changes following non-pharmacological interventions. The objectives of this exploratory, pilot study were to: 1) examine relationships between biomarkers of articular cartilage degradation and synthesis with measures of knee joint load during walking, and 2) examine changes in these biomarkers following 10 weeks of strengthening exercises. METHODS: Seventeen (8 male, 9 female; 66.1 +/- 11.3 years of age) individuals with radiographically-confirmed medial tibiofemoral OA participated. All participants underwent a baseline testing session where serum and urine samples were collected, followed by a three-dimensional motion analysis. Motion analysis was used to calculate the external knee adduction moment (KAM) peak value and impulse. Following baseline testing, participants were randomized to either 10 weeks of: 1) physiotherapist-supervised lower limb muscle strengthening exercises, or 2) no exercises (control). Identical follow-up testing was conducted 11 weeks after baseline. Biomarkers included: urinary C-telopeptide of type II collagen (uCTX-II) and type II collagen cleavage neoepitope (uC2C), serum cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (sCOMP), serum hyaluronic acid (sHA) and serum C-propeptide of type II procollagen (sCPII). Linear regression analysis was used to examine relationships between measures of the KAM and biomarker concentrations as baseline, as well as between-group differences following the intervention. RESULTS: KAM impulse predicted significant variation in uCTX-II levels at baseline (p = 0.04), though not when controlling for disease severity and walking speed (p = 0.33). KAM impulse explained significant variation in the ratio uCTX-II;sCPII even when controlling for additional variables (p = 0.04). Following the intervention, changes in sCOMP were significantly greater in the exercise group compared to controls (p = 0.04). On average those in the control group experienced a slight increase in sCOMP and uCTX-II, while those in the exercise group experienced a reduction. No other significant findings were observed. CONCLUSIONS: This research provides initial evidence of a potential relationship between uCTX-II and knee joint load measures in patients with medial tibiofemoral knee OA. However, this relationship became non-significant after controlling for disease severity and walking speed, suggesting further research is necessary. It also appears that sCOMP is amenable to change following a strengthening intervention, suggesting a potential beneficial role of exercise on cartilage structure. TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT01241812.


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Aged, Biomarkers, Exercise Therapy, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Knee Joint, Male, Middle Aged, Osteoarthritis, Knee, Pilot Projects, Single-Blind Method, Weight-Bearing


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Hunt, Michael A, Courtney L Pollock, Virginia Byers Kraus, Tore Saxne, Sue Peters, Sue Peters, Janet L Huebner, Eric C Sayre, et al. (2013). Relationships amongst osteoarthritis biomarkers, dynamic knee joint load, and exercise: results from a randomized controlled pilot study. BMC Musculoskelet Disord, 14. p. 115. 10.1186/1471-2474-14-115 Retrieved from

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Virginia Byers Kraus

Mary Bernheim Distinguished Professor of Medicine

Virginia Byers Kraus, MD, PhD, is the Mary Bernheim Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Professor of Pathology and a faculty member of the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute in the Duke University School of Medicine. She is a practicing Rheumatologist with over 30 years’ experience in translational musculoskeletal research focusing on osteoarthritis, the most common of all arthritides. She trained at Brown University (ScB 1979), Duke University (MD 1982, PhD 1993) and the Duke University School of Medicine (Residency in Internal Medicine and Fellowship in Rheumatology). Her career has focused on elucidating osteoarthritis pathogenesis and translational research into the discovery and validation of biomarkers for early osteoarthritis detection, prediction of progression, monitoring of disease status, and facilitation of therapeutic developments. She is co-PI of the Foundation for NIH Biomarkers Consortium Osteoarthritis project. Trained as a molecular biologist and a Rheumatologist, she endeavors to study disease from bedside to bench.

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