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Higher body mass index (BMI) is associated with osteoarthritis (OA) in both weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing joints, suggesting a link between OA and poor metabolic health beyond mechanical loading. This risk may be influenced by systemic factors accompanying BMI. Fluctuations in concentrations of metabolites may mark or even contribute to development of OA. This study explores the association of metabolites with radiographic knee/hip OA prevalence and progression. A 1H-NMR-metabolomics assay was performed on plasma samples of 1564 cases for prevalent OA and 2,125 controls collected from the Rotterdam Study, CHECK, GARP/NORREF and LUMC-arthroplasty cohorts. OA prevalence and 5 to 10 year progression was assessed by means of Kellgren-Lawrence (KL) score and the OARSI-atlas. End-stage knee/hip OA (TJA) was defined as indication for arthroplasty surgery. Controls did not have OA at baseline or follow-up. Principal component analysis of 227 metabolites demonstrated 23 factors, of which 19 remained interpretable after quality-control. Associations of factor scores with OA definitions were investigated with logistic regression. Fatty acids chain length (FALen), which was included in two factors which associated with TJA, was individually associated with both overall OA as well as TJA. Increased Fatty Acid chain Length is associated with OA.

Original publication




Journal article


Scientific reports

Publication Date





Department of Orthopaedics, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.