Rapid Progression of Knee Pain and Osteoarthritis Biomarkers Greatest for Patients with Combined Obesity and Depression: Data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative

Cartilage. 2020 Jan;11(1):38-46. doi: 10.1177/1947603518777577. Epub 2018 Jun 1.


Objective: To compare the progression of biochemical biomarkers of osteoarthritis (OA), knee pain, and function between nonobese patients (NON), obese patients without depression (OBESE), and obese patients with comorbid depression (O + D).

Design: Utilizing the FNIH OA Biomarkers Consortium dataset, we categorized knee OA patients into NON, OBESE, and O + D groups based on body mass index and Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression (CES-D) scores. Subjective symptoms (Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score Quality of Life subscale (KOOS QOL), Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) Pain and Physical Function scores, and the Short Form-12 (SF-12) Physical Component Score [PCS]) and objective measures of cartilage degradation and bone remodeling (urinary CTXII and CTXIα) were compared among groups at baseline and 2-year follow-up.

Results: Of the 600 patients, 282 (47%) were NON, 285 (47.5%) OBESE, and 33 (5.5%) O + D. The O + D group had significantly worse pain and function both at baseline and 2-year follow-up (P < 0.001 for all comparisons) as evidenced by self-reported measures on KOOS QOL, WOMAC Pain, WOMAC Physical Function, and SF-12 PCS. The O + D group also demonstrated significant increases in CTXII (P = 0.01) and CTXIα (P = 0.005), whereas the NON and OBESE groups did not.

Conclusions: The combination of inferior knee pain, physical function, and significantly greater increases in biomarkers of cartilage degradation and bony remodelling suggest a more rapid progression for obese OA patients with comorbid depression. The link between systemic disease, inflammatory burden, and progressive cartilage degradation is in line with increasing concerns about a degenerative synovial environment in early osteoarthritic knees that progress to treatment failure with biologic restoration procedures.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00080171.

Keywords: biomarker; depression; knee; obesity; osteoarthritis; pain.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00080171