Epigenetic mechanisms in cartilage and osteoarthritis: DNA methylation, histone modifications and microRNAs

Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2012 May;20(5):339-349. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2011.12.012. Epub 2012 Jan 10.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a complex multifactorial disease with a strong genetic component. Several studies have suggested or identified epigenetic events that may play a role in OA progression and the gene expression changes observed in diseased cartilage. The aim of this review is to inform about current research in epigenetics and epigenetics in OA. Epigenetic mechanisms include DNA methylation, histone modifications, and microRNAs. Collectively, these enable the cell to respond quickly to environmental changes and can be inherited during cell division. However, aberrant epigenetic modifications are associated with a number of pathological conditions, including OA. Advancements in epigenetic research suggests that global analysis of such modifications in OA are now possible, however, with the exception of microRNAs, it will be a significant challenge to demonstrate how such events impact on the disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cartilage, Articular / metabolism*
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • DNA Methylation / genetics*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • Osteoarthritis / genetics*


  • Chromatin
  • Histones
  • MicroRNAs