Osteoarthritis: Insights Offered by the Study of Bone Mass Genetics

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Purpose of Review
This paper reviews how bone genetics has contributed to our understanding of the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis. As well as identifying specific genetic mechanisms involved in osteoporosis which also contribute to osteoarthritis, we review whether bone mineral density (BMD) plays a causal role in OA development.

Recent Findings
We examined whether those genetically predisposed to elevated BMD are at increased risk of developing OA, using our high bone mass (HBM) cohort. HBM individuals were found to have a greater prevalence of OA compared with family controls and greater development of radiographic features of OA over 8 years, with predominantly osteophytic OA. Initial Mendelian randomisation analysis provided additional support for a causal effect of increased BMD on increased OA risk. In contrast, more recent investigation estimates this relationship to be bi-directional. However, both these findings could be explained instead by shared biological pathways.

Pathways which contribute to BMD appear to play an important role in OA development, likely reflecting shared common mechanisms as opposed to a causal effect of raised BMD on OA. Studies in HBM individuals suggest this reflects an important role of mechanisms involved in bone formation in OA development; however further work is required to establish whether the same applies to more common forms of OA within the general population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-122
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Osteoporosis Reports
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2021


  • Osteoarthritis
  • Bone mineral density
  • High bone mass
  • Genetics


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