Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the synovium, or lining of the joints. Arthritis patients suffer from overproduction of synovial fluid which causes a painful swelling of the joint and other symptoms such as stiffness, warmth, redness and swelling at the joints. In rheumatoid arthritis, the extracellular matrix or synovial membrane lining in the joint becomes inflamed. Over time, the inflammation process leads to the destruction of collagen and other components of the joint tissues, causing disability. In patients with this disease, connective tissue digesting enzymes, including matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are expressed in synovial membranes and their excessive secretion has been implicated in synovial tissue destruction.
Our studies indicated that selected micronutrients working in synergy are effective in inhibiting the secretion of MMPs by the synovial fibroblasts and halting cellular invasion to surrounding tissues, thereby modulating tissue destruction. This suggests the beneficial potential of these nutrients in various aspects of rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is a disease of the cartilage in the joint, characterized by continuous breakdown of cartilage, causing damage to the tissue and underlying bone. Breakdown of the cartilage increases mechanical stress on the bones, causing pain. The underlying bone can thicken and in time the joint can even become malformed, restricting movement.
Current thinking is that these changes are due to up-regulation of cartilage (chondrocytes) mediated secretion of MMPs, which in turn leads to progressive breakdown of cartilage.
Studies carried out our institute have shown that micronutrients are very effective in inhibiting the secretion of MMPs in human chondrocytes and in preventing their ability to invade surrounding collagen matrix. These nutrients can be beneficial in osteoarthritis and other conditions related to excessive cartilage degradation.