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Approved Research

Potential biomarkers and mechanistic pathways between OA and the comorbidities- a mendelian randomisation study

Principal Investigator: Professor Weiya Zhang
Approved Research ID: 75427
Approval date: May 24th 2022

Lay summary


We aim to investigate whether osteoarthritis has causal effect on other co-existing long-term conditions and vice versa, and whether there are any shared risk factors between osteoarthritis and its co-existed conditions.

Scientific rationale

Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of joint pain and can lead to a significant loss of working days and impaired quality of life. Osteoarthritis often co-exists with other long-term conditions such as hypertension, stroke, and depression. However, it is unclear why do they co-exist. Does one cause another or do they share a same risk factor, such as obesity? Traditional population-based studies cannot establish the link between osteoarthritis and other conditions as the association may be affected by other risk factors. With Mendelian Randomisation, however, we use genetic information of osteoarthritis, which is randomly allocated and person specific before a person gets osteoarthritis, hence free from the influences of external factors and later environmental effects on the association. In our study we will use the information available in the UK Biobank (a source of information in the UK), and other sources with both genetic and clinical data specifically for osteoarthritis and co-exist conditions. In this study we will focus in depth on fibromyalgia (chronic wide spread pain), depression and gout association with osteoarthritis. Whether people with osteoarthritis are more at risk of having three mentioned conditions or vice-versa will be examined.

Project Duration

12 months

Public health impact

This study will determine whether osteoarthritis or its subtypes have any link with commonly co-existing conditions (fibromyalgia (chronic wide spread pain), depression and gout) and vice-versa. All conditions will be examined provided that we can identify genetic factors which are robustly associated with the given condition. Understanding the association between osteoarthritis and other conditions will help to further investigate the shared possible causes or risk factors, which can help with clinical decisions in managing the multiple conditions coexisting with osteoarthritis.