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Osteoarthritis is generally considered a degenerative disorder driven by mechanical alteration of joint cartilage, with the bone changes being reactive to cartilage changes. According to this pathogenetic mechanism the only strategy to prevent osteoarthritis should be based on the so-called “chondro-protective agents”. However, a number of recent finding suggests that both the initiation and the progression of the disease is driven by subchondral bone changes reactive to mechanical microdamages. These increase osteoblastic activity at the “tide-mark” with consequent enlargement of the epiphyses and osteophyte formation. The increased bone turnover is secondary to overproduction of cytokines that diffuse to cartilage tissue, where they suppress condrocyte activity and activate metallo-proteases. Preliminary observational finding and experimental data showed that inhibitors of bone turnover might slow osteoarthritis progression. The pathogenetic hypothesis for osteoarthritis illustrated here provides the rational for a new therapeutic approach to the disease.
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