Lipid metabolism and osteoarthritis: Lessons from atherosclerosis
Tsezou, Aspasia N.
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Osteoarthritis (OA) is an age-related degenerative disease comprising the main reason of handicap in the Western world. Interestingly, to date, there are neither available biomarkers for early diagnosis of the disease nor any effective therapy other than symptomatic treatment and joint replacement surgery. OA has long been associated with obesity, mainly due to mechanical overload exerted on the joints. Recent studies however, point to the direction that OA is a metabolic disease, as it also involves non-weight bearing joints. In fact, altered lipid metabolism may be the underlying cause. First, adipokines have been shown to be key regulators of OA pathogenesis. Second, epidemiological studies have shown serum cholesterol to be a risk factor for OA development. Third, lipid deposition in the joint is observed at the early stages of OA before the occurrence of histological changes. Fourth, proteomic analyses have shown an important connection between OA and lipid metabolism. Finally, recent gene expression studies reveal a deregulation of cholesterol influx and efflux and in the expression of lipid metabolism-related genes. Interestingly, lipids and lipid metabolism are known to be implicated in the development and progression of another age-related degenerative disease, atherosclerosis (ATH). Thus, although it is tempting to speculate that the osteoarthritic chondrocyte has been transformed to foam cell, it has not been proven yet. However, this may be an intriguing theory linking ATH and OA, which may open new avenues to novel therapeutic interventions for OA taking advantage of previous knowledge from ATH.