New molecular targets for the treatment of osteoarthritis

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Graphical abstractOsteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic degenerative joint disorder characterized by destruction of the articular cartilage, subchondral bone alterations and synovitis. Current treatments are focused on symptomatic relief but they lack efficacy to control the progression of this disease which is a leading cause of disability. Therefore, the development of effective disease-modifying drugs is urgently needed. Different initiatives are in progress to define the molecular mechanisms involved in the initiation and progression of OA. These studies support the therapeutic potential of pathways relevant in joint metabolism such as Wnt/β-catenin, discoidin domain receptor 2 or proteinase-activated receptor 2. The dysregulation in cartilage catabolism and subchondral bone remodeling could be improved by selective inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinases, aggrecanases and other proteases. Another approach would favor the activity of anabolic processes by using growth factors or regulatory molecules. Recent studies have also revealed the role of oxidative stress and synovitis in the progression of this disease, supporting the development of a number of inhibitory strategies. Novel targets in OA are represented by genes involved in OA pathophysiology discovered using gene network, epigenetic and microRNA approaches. Further insights into the molecular mechanisms involved in OA initiation and progression may lead to the development of new therapies able to control joint destruction and repair.

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