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C-reactive proteins do not predict early osteoarthritis

hic approach can only image bone and not cartilage, it has not been a useful tool for diagnosing early-stage disease. Clinicians had hoped that C-reactive protein levels, as measured in the blood, could provide this early predictor of osteoarthritis, said Kraus.

For her analysis, Kraus wanted to discover if there was a correlation between the levels of C-reactive proteins with the degree of osteoarthritis as measured by X-rays. She analyzed clinical data and blood samples collected by Joanne Jordan, M.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Jordan directs the Johnston County, N.C., Osteoarthritis Project, an ethnically diverse sample of patients with osteoarthritis.

After ruling out patients with other disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, Kraus had a sample of 670 patients. The sample was 49 percent African-American, 41.5 percent male, with an average age of 62.

Unlike previous studies, Kraus included BMI as one of the patient characteristics to be studied. The BMI is intended to take into account the relationship of weight and height, and it is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by height in meters squared. The average BMI for the study was 30, with a range of 18.5 to 25 being considered normal.

"The levels of C-reactive protein were higher in African-Americans and women, and were strongly associated with BMI," Kraus said. "C-reactive protein levels were also strongly positively associated with all definitions of osteoarthritis based on radiographic status, with the levels increasing as the severity of the disease increased.

"However, after the statistical analysis, all these associations between C-reactive protein levels and degree of osteoarthritis were explained entirely by BMI differences," she concluded. "For that reason, we do not think that C-reactive protein levels can be a useful predictor of osteoarthritis."

It is known that the immune system molecule known as interleukin-6 (IL-6)
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Contact: Richard Merritt
merri006@mc.duke.edu
919-684-4148
Duke University Medical Center
7-Mar-2004


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