Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease vol:4 issue:4 pages:293-9
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS), the best-known form of spondyloarthritis (SpA), is a remodelling arthritis characterized by chronic inflammation and bone formation. Ankylosis of the axial skeleton and sacroiliac joints leads to an impairment of spinal mobility, progressive spinal fusion and an increased risk of spinal fractures. The nature of the relationship between inflammation and new bone formation in AS has been controversial and questions remain as to whether there is a direct relationship between inflammation and new bone formation. Like others, we have hypothesized that the molecular pathways underlying ankylosis recapitulate the process of endochondral bone formation and that bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) play a key role in this process in AS. Furthermore, we discuss the entheseal stress hypothesis, which proposes that inflammation and ankylosis are linked but largely independent processes, and consider observations from mouse models and other human diseases which also imply that biomechanical factors contribute to the pathogenesis of AS. As current therapeutics, such as tumour necrosis factor inhibitors do not impede disease progression and ankylosis in AS, it is the pathways discussed in this review that are the now the focus for the identification of future drug targets.