RVC identifies links between osteoarthritis in dogs and humans

An international team of researchers, led by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), have for the first time identified key similarities between osteoarthritis (OA) in dogs and in humans.

The findings, which are published in Nature Reviews Rheumatology, suggest the similarities are partly due to the shared lifestyles and environments of dogs and humans. However their similar anatomies and disease physiology also contribute.

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For the first time, different forms of human and dog OA have been aligned, with the One Medicine aim to pinpoint shared mechanisms and new treatment options to help dogs and humans alike.

The researchers, who crossed various human and animal medicine disciplines, made their discoveries by conducting a review of literature related to the condition. Through the analysis of over 230 peer reviewed academic studies, the team were able to amalgamate the research into one single source of knowledge, the Spontaneous dog osteoarthritis — a One Medicine vision published in Nature Reviews.

It was found that both dogs and humans share the most common areas for the development of OA; the knee, hip, shoulder and elbows. The pain experienced by both dogs and humans also has a common basis, leading the researchers to believe the neurophysiology of dogs and humans is also linked.

By compiling this knowledge into one paper, the researchers hope this review will lead to future collaborative research of OA by human and animal health experts. This ‘one medicine’ approach could unlock new treatments to improve the welfare of both animals and humans.

The review was headed up by clinicians and researchers Dr Richard Meeson and professor Andrew Pitsillides from the Royal Veterinary College. They worked in conjunction with bioengineers, human rheumatologists and veterinary research clinicians from the University College London, University of Portsmouth, the University of Edinburgh and Cornell University, USA.

Dr Richard Meeson, lead author of the review and head of orthopaedics at the RVC, said: “Pet dogs live with us and develop many of the same diseases as humans, such as arthritis. There is a growing belief, therefore, that a ‘one medicine’ approach to many of these diseases has the potential to unlock new understanding and treatments for both animals and humans. The potential for this approach has been clearly demonstrated in our review.”

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