Osteoarthritis (OA) was once defined as a non-inflammatory arthropathy, but it is now well-recognized that there is a major inflammatory component to this disease. In addition to synovial cells, articular chondrocytes and other cells of diarthrodial joints are also known to express inflammatory mediators. It has been proposed that targeting inflammation pathways could be a promising strategy to treat OA. There have been many reports of cross-talk between inflammation and epigenetic factors in cartilage. Specifically, inflammatory mediators have been shown to regulate levels of enzymes that catalyze changes in DNA methylation and histone structure, as well as alter levels of non-coding RNAs. In addition, expression levels of a number of these epigenetic factors have been shown to be altered in OA, thereby suggesting potential interplay between inflammation and epigenetics in this disease. This review provides information on inflammatory pathways in arthritis and summarizes published research on how epigenetic regulators are affected by inflammation in chondrocytes. Furthermore, we discuss data showing how altered expression of some of these epigenetic factors can induce either catabolic or anti-catabolic effects in response to inflammatory signals. A better understanding of how inflammation affects epigenetic factors in OA may provide us with novel therapeutic strategies to treat this condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-63
Number of pages15
JournalConnective Tissue Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017


  • DNA methylation
  • epigenetics
  • histone modification
  • inflammation
  • non-coding RNA
  • osteoarthritis


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