Disease Models and Mechanisms vol:8 issue:1 pages:17-30
Osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative disorder of the joint and represents one of the most common diseases worldwide. Its prevalence and severity are increasing owing to aging of the population, but treatment options remain largely limited to painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs, which only provide symptomatic relief. In the late stages of the disease, surgical interventions are often necessary to partially restore joint function. Although the focus of osteoarthritis research has been originally on the articular cartilage, novel findings are now pointing to osteoarthritis as a disease of the whole joint, in which failure of different joint components can occur. In this Review, we summarize recent progress in the field, including data from novel 'omics' technologies and from a number of preclinical and clinical trials. We describe different in vitro and in vivo systems that can be used to study molecules, pathways and cells that are involved in osteoarthritis. We illustrate that a comprehensive and multisystem approach is necessary to understand the complexity and heterogeneity of the disease and to better guide the development of novel therapeutic strategies for osteoarthritis.