• Question: Does arthritis pass through family genes

    Asked by Michael S to Remsha, Oliver on 10 Nov 2018.
    • Photo: Oliver Feeney

      Oliver Feeney answered on 10 Nov 2018:


      Good question. Two very common types of arthritis are rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease where the body’s own immune system attacks the body’s own organs and tissues. This disease is due to a complex combination of genetic and environmental factors. Osteoarthritis also has genetic roots but can also be linked to the wear and tear of age. Thanks for the question!

    • Photo: Remsha Afzal

      Remsha Afzal answered on 11 Nov 2018:


      Hi Michael,

      Like Oliver said there are two types of arthritis. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is the type that is linked to your genes more. In RA, your body’s immune cells attack your joints for unknown reasons but it has been shown SOME genes can increase the risk of a person developing it. This means that it is possible for a person to pass genes to their children that could make them more likely to have it. But it is important to remember that does not mean they will develop RA for sure.

      Our body has 25000 genes controlling different things like our appearance, our tendency to get sick with different diseases etc. Some diseases only get controlled by one gene getting mutated or faulty. But others, like RA, are controlled by a combination of multiple genes AND environmental factors (like your age, ethnicity, lifestyle diet, smoking). This means that for a person to be genetically vulnerable to developing RA, they need to inherit not just one specific gene from their parents, but several different genes! And having one or two of these genes will NOT necessarily lead to the disease.

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