Pathogenesis of bone lesions in rheumatoid arthritis

Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2002 Jun;4(3):226-31. doi: 10.1007/s11926-002-0069-y.


Histopathologic characterization of bone erosions from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and studies performed in animal models of inflammatory arthritis provide strong evidence that osteoclasts play an important role in focal marginal and subchondral bone loss in inflammatory arthritis. Much has been learned concerning the factors responsible for the induction and activation of osteoclasts associated with the bone erosions in RA. Therapies that target these osteoclast-inducing factors or other aspects of osteoclast-mediated bone resorption represent potential targets for blocking or at least attenuating bone destruction in RA. The demonstration of the role of the newly described osteoclastogenic factor receptor activator of nuclear factor kappaB ligand in RA synovial tissues and the successful prevention of bone erosions in animal models of arthritis with its inhibitor osteoprotegerin provide hope that specific therapies can be developed for preventing bone and joint destruction in RA, particularly in situations in which disease-modifying agents are ineffective in controlling disease activity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Bone Resorption / complications*
  • Bone Resorption / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Osteoclasts / physiology