Espin-Garcia O, Baghel M, Brar N, Whittaker JL, and Ali SA. Can genetics guide exercise prescriptions in osteoarthritis? Front Rehabil Sci 2022; 3:930421.
Front Rehabil Sci
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis and has a multifactorial etiology. Current management for OA focuses on minimizing pain and functional loss, typically involving pharmacological, physical, psychosocial, and mind-body interventions. However, there remain challenges in determining which patients will benefit most from which interventions. Although exercise-based interventions are recommended as first-line treatments and are known to be beneficial for managing both the disease and illness of OA, the optimal exercise "prescription" is unknown, due in part to our limited understanding of the precise mechanisms underlying its action. Here we present our perspective on the potential role of genetics in guiding exercise prescription for persons with OA. We describe key publications in the areas of exercise and OA, genetics and OA, and exercise and genetics, and point to a paucity of knowledge at the intersection of exercise, genetics, and OA. We suggest there is emerging evidence to support the use of genetics and epigenetics to explain the beneficial effects of exercise for OA. We identify missing links in the existing research relating to exercise, genetics, and OA, and highlight epigenetics as a promising mechanism through which environmental exposures such as exercise may impact OA outcomes. We anticipate future studies will improve our understanding of how genetic and epigenetic factors mediate exercise-based interventions to support implementation and ultimately improve OA patient care.