Markers of cartilage metabolism in arthrosis
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The mechanisms involved in the disease process in arthrosis are largely unknown, with genetics, joint malalignment, overload or trauma, obesity, and aging as some of the known or suspected contributing factors. Even less well known is how these general factors are translated into disease mechanisms at the cell and tissue levels. However, it may be argued that degradation of cartilage matrix is a key event at some time in the development of arthrosis. During this process, fragments of matrix molecules and other chondrocyte products are released into the joint fluid and eventually into other body fluids. These molecules can be used as markers of cartilage metabolism to monitor joint disease. In addition, by identifying the proteases and the structure of the released matrix fragments, we may improve our understanding of the cellular mechanisms active in cartilage degradation. Such information offers improved diagnostic and prognostic tools for rational treatment aimed at retarding cartilage destruction in arthrosis.