Genetic factors appear to play a role in the development of arthritis of the knee, according to a report in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
Previous studies investigating possible genetic contributions to knee arthritis have been inconclusive, the authors explain, but recent studies suggest that the amount of cartilage in the knee, which is influenced by genetic factors, may determine the risk of arthritis. To look for other genetic factors, Dr. G. Jones and colleagues, from Menzies Center for Population Health Research in Tasmania, Australia, compared various features of 188 children who had at least one parent with knee arthritis with those of 188 similar kids with no family history of knee arthritis. The amount of knee cartilage did not differ between the two groups of children, the authors report, but the shinbones of children with affected parents did display more bone area near the knee joint than the bones of comparison children. Children of affected parents were also heavier and had higher body weight for height, more than twice the knee pain, and less lower limb strength than children of unaffected parents. The results suggest that body weight, muscle strength, knee pain, and shin bone area are all genetic factors that influence the development of knee arthritis, the researchers conclude. (SOURCE: Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases: Reuters Health News: September 2004.)