PURPOSE OF REVIEW Identification of patients at risk for incident disease or disease progression in osteoarthritis remains challenging, as radiography is an insensitive reflection of molecular changes that presage cartilage and bone abnormalities. Thus there is a widely appreciated need for biochemical and imaging biomarkers. We describe recent developments with such biomarkers to identify osteoarthritis patients who are at risk for disease progression. RECENT FINDINGS The biochemical markers currently under evaluation include anabolic, catabolic, and inflammatory molecules representing diverse biological pathways. A few promising cartilage and bone degradation and synthesis biomarkers are in various stages of development, awaiting further validation in larger populations. A number of studies have shown elevated expression levels of inflammatory biomarkers, both locally (synovial fluid) and systemically (serum and plasma). These chemical biomarkers are under evaluation in combination with imaging biomarkers to predict early onset and the burden of disease. SUMMARY Prognostic biomarkers may be used in clinical knee osteoarthritis to identify subgroups in whom the disease progresses at different rates. This could facilitate our understanding of the pathogenesis and allow us to differentiate phenotypes within a heterogeneous knee osteoarthritis population. Ultimately, such findings may help facilitate the development of disease-modifying osteoarthritis drugs (DMOADs).
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