Arthritis, a painful and often life-changing disease, is a common complaint among older people. However, arthritis is not one disease, but several, the most common of which are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RI) is among the most painful, difficult to treat, and often life-altering form of arthritis. RI is an autoimmune disorder, in which the body’s immune system mistakenly thinks healthy joint tissue poses a threat, and consequently seeks to destroy it. In the United States, RI affects 200,000 people annually
However, the most common type of arthritis — and the most common joint disorder in the United States — is osteoarthritis, which affects more than 30 million adults. Although there are several medications and treatments, such as physical therapy, that can help those suffering from osteoarthritis, no solution has yet been found to stop the progression of this debilitating condition.
In new research, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers investigated the cellular changes taking place in those afflicted with osteoarthritis and, in particular, the specific proteins involved in those cellular changes.
Researchers found that the protein ANP32A plays a number of fundamental roles within cells. Among those who suffer from osteoarthritis, the levels of ANP32A were found to be significantly lower than in those not afflicted with this condition.
In the first phase of the study, researchers found that mice that were incapable of producing ANP32A very quickly developed osteoarthritis and bone loss.
After concluding that ANP32A helps to protect against the development and progression of osteoarthritis, researchers examined the effect of specific antioxidants on ANP32A. Their findings showed that the antioxidant N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), reduces the symptoms of osteoarthritis and its associated cartilage damage.
A partial explanation for this phenomenon was found: the protein ANP32A raises the level of the enzyme ATM, which is known to play a fundamental role protecting cartilage cells. Consequently, people with a lower level of ANP32A will also have a lower level of the protective enzyme ATM, paving the way for cartilage damage.
The specific reason that NAC protects against osteoarthritis is still not fully understood. But a large body of research has been demonstrated the important health effects of antioxidants. There are many antioxidant “super foods” that we can add to our diets to lessen the effects of osteoarthritis, and boost our overall health. Doing so helps older people take control of their health, and maintain their mobility.
Beacon of LIFE, in Oceanport, NJ, is a government-approved PACE program created to provide seniors, their family, caregivers and professional health care providers the flexibility to meet their health care needs while continuing to live in their community.
Beacon of LIFE maintains an interdisciplinary team of professionals who give each client the coordinated care they need. Our staff specialize in working with older people, and work with each client and their family to develop the most effective plan of care.
Our care and services allow people who would otherwise need to live in a nursing home to live where they want — in their own communities, in their own homes.