Rheumatic conditions are characterized by their insidious onset and progressive disease resulting in joint destruction, loss of functional capacity and quality of life. The most prevalent rheumatic condition is osteoarthritis that can affect every joint, but has hands, knees and hips among its predilection sites. In 2000 research in osteoarthritis is initiated and is performed in close collaboration with the Department of Rheumatology.

The research focused on two topics: etiology of osteoarthritis and clinimetrics in knee and hand osteoarthritis. For this purpose we set up several cohorts and collected patient material.

Etiologic research of the last 5 years focuses on systemic mechanisms underlying the osteoarthritic process. We focused on the role of synovitis and fat tissue in osteoarthritis, by performing both epidemiological and translational studies as also by fundamental research. In the latter our focus was on the role of infra-patellar fat pad in knee osteoarthritis and on lipid mediators. Epidemiological studies were performed in our GARP (Genetics Arthrosis Progression) patient cohort, the EHOA (“Echografie in handartrose”) and HOSTAS (Hand OSTeoArthritis in Secondary care) cohort and in a large population-based study - NEO (Netherlands Epidemiology of Obesity) - in which hand and knee osteoarthritis are being compared.

To improve the methodology for classification and measurement of outcomes in hand osteoarthritis clinical studies have been set up and we participate within international projects, such as the hand osteoarthritis group in OMERACT. Methodological studies to investigate the value of imaging instruments have been performed.