Washington: Researchers have discovered that fat cells in the knee secrete a protein linked to arthritis.
The finding could pave the way for new gene therapies that could offer relief and mobility to millions worldwide.
"We found that fat in the knee joints secretes a protein called pro-factor D which gives rise to another protein known as factor D that is linked to arthritis," Nirmal Banda, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine in the Division of Rheumatology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said.
"Without factor D, mice cannot get rheumatoid arthritis," he said.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that gradually destroy bones, muscles, joints, cartilage and other connective tissue. Over 1 percent or about 1.3 million Americans suffer from it.
Banda, senior author of the study, has spent the last 14 years tracking down the causes of rheumatoid arthritis in collaboration with CU School of Medicine professors Michael Holers, MD, and William Arend, MD.
Now, with the discovery of pro-factor D in mice with rheumatoid arthritis , he is working on gene therapies to eliminate the protein in localized areas. However, these findings still need to be extended to humans.
He noted that fat does the same thing in all the joints, not just the knees. That means new medications resulting from this discovery could treat inflammatory arthritis throughout the body.
The study is published in the Journal of Immunology.