A Moment of Science

Moose Help Track Down the Cause of Arthritis

A study shows that malnutrition during early development is a likely cause of arthritis in moose.

moose

Photo: tschoppi (flickr)

Research suggests a correlation malnutrition and the onset of arthritis. Luckily, this moose seems to have plenty to munch on!

A 50-year-old research program of moose bones discovered on Isle Royale in Lake Superior has led to insight on arthritis in humans.

Researcher found that despite the grand size and strength of the moose, their bones showed that many moose suffered from arthritis, an affliction that affects one out of seven human adults.

But what was the cause in these moose?

After many years of studying these bones, scientists concluded that malnutrition early in life was the main culprit. Malnutrition in a young, developing body could have affected the composition of bones and cartilage. It could have also affected hormones, which are related to inflammation and oxidative stress.

Could this be true for humans too? Research suggests as much. One British study on humans actually found a link between low birth weight (indicating poor nutrition) to osteoarthritis in male hands.

The study of human arthritis is far more complex than just looking at a few moose bones. However, this information had led arthritis specialists to stress the importance of good nutrition for our children, beginning in utero.

Read More:

  • Moose Offer Trail of Clues on Arthritis (NYTimes) — Watch the video!
  • Ecologists Link Early Malnutrition, Later Arthritis in Moose (PhysOrg)

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Molly Plunkett

is a journalism student at Indiana University and an online producer for A Moment of Science. She is originally from Wheaton, IL.

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