The correlation between blood lead levels and knee osteoarthritis: a preliminary Egyptian study

Author(s): Reem Khaled Abo-Elmaaty, Rania Hamed Abdel-Rahman, Abeer Abdel-Hamid Fekry, Sahar Abdel-Aziz El-Dakroory & Mona Ahmed El-Harouny

Background: Lead is a common ubiquitous environmental pollutant. The increasing prevalence of knee Osteoarthritis (OA) among young patients is suggestive of a possible contribution of environmental factors such as lead. This work aimed to assess the correlation between blood lead and hyaluronic acid levels and degree of knee osteoarthritis among a group of young adult Egyptian patients. Methods and findings: This study was conducted on 90 patients aged 20-50 years old, presented with knee OA. Clinical and radiological assessments of OA severity were performed. Blood samples were collected for estimation of lead and hyaluronic acid (HA) levels. The mean age of the study participants was 36.88±8.96 years. The median blood lead level was 6.35 μg/dl. There was a significant correlation between blood lead level and the severity of knee osteoarthritis either clinically or radiologically. The median serum HA level was 46.95 ng/ml (min-max:10.4-184 ng/ml). A significant positive correlation was found between blood lead and HA levels. Conclusions: it could be concluded that lead represents a potential contributing environmental risk factor for osteoarthritis. Further investigation is warranted to clarify the exact mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of this disease in relation to various environmental pollutants including lead.