Salamander-like cartilage regrowth in humans could guide osteoarthritis treatment

October 14, 2019

Creatures like salamanders and lizards are able to regenerate lost limbs, which more readily regenerate at the extremities, such as the ends of legs or tails. Virginia B. Kraus, a professor of Medicine, Pathology and Orthopedic Surgery at Duke Health, based in North Carolina, US, and colleagues have recently found that cartilage in human joints can repair itself through a similar process, with the regenerative capacity of “younger” cartilage being more robust.

The researchers learned that microRNAs in humans provide the capability for joint tissue repair, and found that the age of cartilage largely depended on where it resided in the body – cartilage is young in the ankles, middle-aged in the knee and old in the hips. In certain animals, this microRNA activity also varies significantly by its location- it is more active in the top layer of cartilage compared to deeper layers of cartilage.

Thus, the correlation of age and how animal limb repair occurs explains, to an extent, why knee/hip injuries take longer to recover and often develop into arthritis, while ankle injuries heal quicker and less often become severely arthritic.

Kraus thinks the fundamental mechanism of repair could be applied to many tissues within the body, but at present, the finding could guide effective treatments for osteoarthritis, the most common joint disorder in the world, and even lead to whole limb regeneration/replacement.


Category: Education, Features

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