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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 1/2018

Inflammation and glucose homeostasis are associated with specific structural features among adults without knee osteoarthritis: a cross-sectional study from the osteoarthritis initiative

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders > Ausgabe 1/2018
Alina C. Stout, Mary F. Barbe, Charles B. Eaton, Mamta Amin, Fatimah Al-Eid, Lori Lyn Price, Bing Lu, Grace H. Lo, Ming Zhang, Jincheng Pang, Timothy E. McAlindon, Jeffrey B. Driban



Greater age and body mass index are strong risk factors for osteoarthritis (OA). Older and overweight individuals may be more susceptible to OA because these factors alter tissue turnover in menisci, articular cartilage, and bone via altered glucose homeostasis and inflammation. Understanding the role of inflammation and glucose homeostasis on structural features of early-stage OA may help identify therapeutic targets to delay or prevent the onset of OA among subsets of adults with these features. We examined if serum concentrations of glucose homeostasis (glucose, glycated serum protein [GSP]) or inflammation (C-reactive protein [CRP]) were associated with prevalent knee bone marrow lesions (BMLs) or effusion among adults without knee OA.


We conducted a cross-sectional study using baseline data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative. We selected participants who had no radiographic knee OA but were at high risk for knee OA. Blinded staff conducted assays for CRP, GSP, and glucose. Readers segmented BML volume and effusion using semi-automated programs. Our outcomes were prevalent BML (knee with a BML volume > 1 cm3) and effusion (knee with an effusion volume > 7.5 cm3). We used logistic regression models with CRP, GSP, or glucose concentrations as the predictors. We adjusted for age, sex, body mass index (BMI), and Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE) scores.


We included 343 participants: mean age = 59 ± 9 years, BMI = 27.9 ± 4.5 kg/m2, PASE score = 171 ± 82, and 64% female. Only CRP was associated with BML prevalence (odds ratio [OR] = 1.43, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.09 to 1.87). For effusion, we found an interaction between BMI and CRP: only among adults with a BMI <25 kg/m2 was there a significant trend towards a positive association between CRP and effusion (OR = 1.40, 95% CI = 1.00 to 1.97). We detected a U-shaped relationship between GSP and effusion prevalence. Fasting glucose levels were not significantly associated with the presence of baseline effusion or BML.


Among individuals without knee OA, CRP may be related to the presence of BMLs and effusion among normal weight individuals. Abnormal GSP may be associated with effusion. Future studies should explore whether inflammation and glucose homeostasis are predictive of symptomatic knee OA.
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