An Unexpected Finding on What Might Drive Joint Disease | Health News

By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay)

FRIDAY, Oct. 23, 2020 (HealthDay News) — High levels of a protein that lubricates the knee joint may actually be a harbinger of impending joint disease, a surprising animal study suggests.

The researchers looked at the role of the protein, known as lubricin, in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in dogs because it may also be involved in similar injuries in humans.

“Lubricin is crucial for normal joint function and the lubrication of cartilage,” said researcher Heidi Reesink, an assistant professor in equine health at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University. “We know that if a person or animal doesn’t make that protein, they will develop devastating joint disease affecting all the major weight-bearing joints.”

But Reesink found that in dogs that suffered a ligament tear in the knee, lubricin levels increased within the joint, which is the opposite of the conventional assumptions. “The dogma in this field has been that lubricin decreases in joint disease,” Reesink said in a university news release.

The researchers found that in three dogs, lubricin increased in the time between the initial injury but before any signs of arthritis.

“This indicates that the presence of increased lubricin might actually be a biomarker for predicting future osteoarthritis,” Reesink said. “We also saw increased lubricin in dogs months to years after they injured their ACLs, suggesting that lubricin might be an indicator of ongoing joint instability.

“In looking at horses and dogs, we’re seeing the same pattern,” Reesink said. “The strongest piece of data would be to show it in humans as well.” However, findings in animal studies don’t always translate to humans.

Increased lubricin could become a signal for doctors to intervene or try a different treatment, she added.

The study was published recently in the journal Scientific Reports.

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Curbing COVID Brought Unexpected Benefit for Asthma Patients | Health News

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay)

TUESDAY, Oct. 20, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Measures enacted to slow the spread of the new coronavirus also appeared to reduce hospitalizations for asthma, a new study finds.

Researchers compared weekly data on hospitalizations at 272 hospitals in Japan in the first five months of 2020 to the same period in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Asthma hospitalizations in 2017-19 and 2020 showed similar trends until week eight, but in 2020 hospitalizations began to decline in week nine, the study found.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 were first recorded during week seven of 2020. Further analysis found a significant decrease in the average number of asthma hospitalizations during weeks nine to 22 of this year compared to 2017-19.

The findings were published Oct. 13 in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.

“Asthma hospitalizations usually indicate that an individual’s asthma is not currently under control,” corresponding author Dr. Atsushi Miyawaki, of the University of Tokyo, said in a journal news release. “This would suggest that asthma control improved during the pandemic. It illustrates the importance of environmental factors when it comes to treating and managing patients with asthma.”

One possible explanation is that increased hygiene to prevent COVID-19 would also reduce exposure to asthma triggers, according to the researchers. Enhanced precautions — such as frequent cleaning and reduced smoking — by people concerned that COVID-19 may trigger asthma may also have helped reduce triggers.

Other possible explanations include people being more likely to use preventative asthma medications, and community COVID-19 prevention measures helping reduce other respiratory infections, which can cause worsen asthma.

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more on asthma.

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