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Journal of Immunology Research
Volume 2015, Article ID 192415, 13 pages
Review Article

Recognition of Immune Response for the Early Diagnosis and Treatment of Osteoarthritis

1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA
2Department of Radiology and Medical Imaging, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA

Received 17 October 2014; Accepted 2 December 2014

Academic Editor: Patrizia D’Amelio

Copyright © 2015 Adrese M. Kandahari et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Osteoarthritis is a common and debilitating joint disease that affects up to 30 million Americans, leading to significant disability, reduction in quality of life, and costing the United States tens of billions of dollars annually. Classically, osteoarthritis has been characterized as a degenerative, wear-and-tear disease, but recent research has identified it as an immunopathological disease on a spectrum between healthy condition and rheumatoid arthritis. A systematic literature review demonstrates that the disease pathogenesis is driven by an early innate immune response which progressively catalyzes degenerative changes that ultimately lead to an altered joint microenvironment. It is feasible to detect this infiltration of cells in the early, and presumably asymptomatic, phase of the disease through noninvasive imaging techniques. This screening can serve to aid clinicians in potentially identifying high-risk patients, hopefully leading to early effective management, vast improvements in quality of life, and significant reductions in disability, morbidity, and cost related to osteoarthritis. Although the diagnosis and treatment of osteoarthritis routinely utilize both invasive and non-invasive strategies, imaging techniques specific to inflammatory cells are not commonly employed for these purposes. This review discusses this paradigm and aims to shift the focus of future osteoarthritis-related research towards early diagnosis of the disease process.