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Age is the strongest independent risk factor for the development of osteoarthritis (OA) and for many years this was assumed to be due to repetitive microtrauma of the joint surface over time, the so-called 'wear and tear' arthritis. As our understanding of OA pathogenesis has become more refined, it has changed our appreciation of the role of ageing on disease. Cartilage breakdown in disease is not a passive process but one involving induction and activation of specific matrix-degrading enzymes; chondrocytes are exquisitely sensitive to changes in the mechanical, inflammatory and metabolic environment of the joint; cartilage is continuously adapting to these changes by altering its matrix. Ageing influences all of these processes. In this review, we will discuss how ageing affects tissue structure, joint use and the cellular metabolism. We describe what is known about pathways implicated in ageing in other model systems and discuss the potential value of targeting these pathways in OA.

Original publication




Journal article


Mamm Genome

Publication Date





421 - 429


Aging, Cartilage, Cellular Senescence, Chondrocytes, Humans, Osteoarthritis, Signal Transduction