Joints do not recover
Cartilage tissue in the joints is not renewed during life
Katja M. Heinemeier from the Center for Healthy Aging (Denmark) and her colleagues conducted a study of the human musculoskeletal system by radiocarbon dating. The researchers came to the conclusion that our joints are practically not updated with age. This means that developing new treatments for many joint diseases may be more difficult than previously thought. The results of the work are published in the journal Science Translational Medicine (Radiocarbon dating reveals minimal collagen turnover in both healthy and osteoarthritic human cartilage).
In the new study, scientists applied radiocarbon analysis (a method that is often used in archaeology and forensic medical examination) to study changes in the human musculoskeletal system. Fifteen volunteers, born in 1935-1997, took part in the project.
The methodological basis of the work was the fact that nuclear bomb tests were actively conducted during the Cold War. Because of this, the level of carbon-14, which is absorbed by all living beings from the atmosphere, has jumped sharply all over the world. Thus, traces of this phenomenon can still be found in people who lived in the 1950s and 1960s.
The radiocarbon dating method has already been used to determine the age of fat deposits, the lens of the eye and other body tissues. Now scientists have used it to assess the condition of cartilage tissue. They saw that during a person's lifetime, almost no new collagen is formed in the cartilage – even in people who are subjected to high physical exertion or have suffered some diseases.
The results of the work explain why cartilage tissue is so difficult to heal after injuries and pose new problems in the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint diseases.
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