The researchers began by looking at the complete genetic codes of more than 7,400 patients with severe hip and knee osteoarthritis.
Their DNA was compared with that of more than 11,000 healthy individuals.
Once the most promising genetic sites were identified, the study was repeated by comparing the genomes of another 7,500 people with a much bigger healthy population of 43,000.
The results confirmed the three previously reported gene variants and found a further eight linked to osteoarthritis.
Five of the new variants were significantly associated with the disease.
The one with the strongest effect was situated in the region of the GNL3 gene which produces a protein with an important role in cell maintenance.
Three others were in areas of DNA encoding proteins involved in the regulation of cartilage, bone development and body weight.
The findings are published today in the latest online edition of The Lancet medical journal.
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