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Health Fusion: Why inflammatory arthritis attacks the same joints again and again

Can a disease like arthritis have a memory? It sure seems like it when flare-ups keep happening in the same joint. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams shares info from a study that explores the memory power of inflammatory arthritis and related diseases.

This scenario is all too common for people with inflammatory arthritis. They get a major flare in the right knee and left wrist. Then it subsides, only to return to the same joints. Each patient develops a distinct disease pattern. But why?

Researchers from Boston Children's Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital are trying to figure out why the disease seems to remember which joints have flared in the past. They did a study and found out where that memory lives: in a type of immune cell called a tissue-resident memory T cell. Those cells hide out in the synovium, which is the tissue that lines the capsule around the joint. After flares, the T-cells stay there and wait for another trigger.

The researchers say their data showed if you get rid of those cells, the flare-ups stop. That's huge and potentially very encouraging news for the many people who suffer from these ongoing, life-long and painful diseases. The researchers hope this new information will help to develop new and better treatments.

The study is published in the journal Cell Reports.

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For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at vwilliams@newsmd.com . Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

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