Osteoarthritis, part of life or a curable disease? A bird's-eye view

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic joint disease caused by disruption of joint homeostasis by a variety of systemic and biomechanical factors. The disease is characterized by degradation of cartilage and other joint tissues, and low-grade inflammation which may result in pain, reduced function, and disability. The disease appears to have ancient origins, with findings of OA recognized in fossilized bones from birdlike dinosaurs living some 130 million years ago. Today, the burden of OA in the world's population is steadily increasing due to aging and often rising rates of obesity. Structural findings, indicative of the disease, are also frequent in asymptomatic persons, which make the distinction between disease and normal aging sometimes challenging. OA is frequently associated with comorbidity in the form of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and depressive symptoms. The current management and treatments largely rely on contextual factors, and the actual effects of the intended therapeutic element of today's interventions are minor. The different mechanistic pathways (endotypes) and clinical characteristics (phenotypes) of OA make the development of disease-modifying treatments challenging. Current development of drug candidates, aimed to restore joint homeostasis, is mainly targeting either inhibition of catabolic factors or stimulation of anabolic factors. However, there is yet no breakthrough in stage III clinical trials. Earlier diagnosis, better knowledge of endotypes—for example, by new insights into soluble biomarkers, and compositional imaging—and more careful selection of patients into clinical trials are possible tools to aid development of future therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-693
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Internal Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Rheumatology and Autoimmunity

Free keywords

  • epidemiology
  • etiology
  • osteoarthritis
  • pain
  • therapeutics


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