Modern-day environmental factors in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis

Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2018 Nov;14(11):674-681. doi: 10.1038/s41584-018-0073-x.


The prevalence of osteoarthritis (OA) is rising for reasons that are not fully understood. In this Opinion article, we review the possibility that OA is an evolutionary mismatch disease, which is a disease more common today than in the past because genes inherited from previous generations are inadequately or imperfectly adapted to modern environmental conditions. We focus on four major environmental factors in OA pathogenesis that have become ubiquitous within the past half-century: obesity, metabolic syndrome, dietary changes and physical inactivity. Because a cure for OA does not yet exist, prevention strategies that target these modifiable environmental factors are needed to curb further increases in OA prevalence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Syndrome / complications
  • Obesity / complications
  • Osteoarthritis / epidemiology*
  • Osteoarthritis / etiology*
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sedentary Behavior