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Hormonal Imbalance and RA Link Studied
February 19, 2004
By Hannah Clark for Knee1
A new study further illuminates the connection between rheumatoid arthritis and hormonal imbalance.
The study measured levels of estrogen and androgen in joint fluid of patients with RA and patients without it. The overall level of estrogen was higher in patients with RA, according to researchers. The ratio of estrogen to androgen was also higher.
Estrogen tends to promote inflammation while androgen can curb it. Androgen is a male hormone, which may explain why RA is more prevalent in women.
"The observed shift in the direction of estrogens in relation to androgens is a supporter of the inflammatory process in arthritis," lead author Dr. Rainer H. Straub from University Medical Center in Regensburg, Germany, told Reuters Health.
The evidence from this study "may provide a basis to develop an alternative hormonal therapy for RA patients, using strategies designed to achieve a reduction in estrogen formation," the researchers concluded in the study, published in the December issue of the Journal of Rheumatology.
Many researchers have believed for years that there is a connection between hormones and RA. In 1999, researchers at the University of Iowa measured hormones in joint fluid of children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. They found reduced levels of the hormones DHEA-S and testosterone in patients with JRA.
"We must conduct additional studies in the area of hormones as they relate to juvenile rheumatoid arthritis so that the medical community can finally come to a consensus on the issue," said Mary Hendrix, UI professor and head of anatomy and cell biology. "Only then can we begin to look at ways that hormones might be used to treat the often debilitating condition."
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