Posts Tagged ‘osteoarthritis’

University of Bristol Research has shown that omega3 fatty acids substantially reduce the signs and symptoms of bone density loss

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

New research has shown for the first time that omega-3 in fish oil could “substantially and significantly” reduce the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis.

According to the University of Bristol study, funded by Arthritis Research UK and published in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, omega-3-rich diets fed to guinea pigs, which naturally develop osteoarthritis, reduced disease by 50 per cent compared to a standard diet.

The research is a major step forward in showing that omega-3 fatty acids, either sourced from fish oil or flax oil, may help to slow down the progression of osteoarthritis, or even prevent it occurring, confirming anecdotal reports and “old wives’ tales” about the benefits of fish oil for joint health.

Lead researcher Dr John Tarlton, from the Matrix Biology Research group at the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences, said classic early signs of the condition, such as the degradation of collagen in cartilage and the loss of molecules that give it shock-absorbing properties, were both reduced with omega-3.

“Furthermore, there was strong evidence that omega-3 influences the biochemistry of the disease, and therefore not only helps prevent disease, but also slows its progression, potentially controlling established osteoarthritis,” he said.

Dr Tarlton added: “The only way of being certain that the effects of omega-3 are as applicable to humans as demonstrated in guinea pigs is to apply omega-3 to humans. However, osteoarthritis in guinea pigs is perhaps the most appropriate model for spontaneous, naturally occurring osteoarthritis, and all of the evidence supports the use of omega-3 in human disease.”

Medical research director of Arthritis Research UK, Professor Alan Silman, said: “The possibility that omega-3 fatty acids could prevent osteoarthritis from developing has been a tantalising one. Some limited, previous research has suggested that we were a long way away from understanding the potential use in humans. However, this current research in guinea pigs is exciting as it brings us closer to understanding how omega-3 might fundamentally interfere with the osteoarthritis process, and that it could potentially be taken as a treatment.”

On the back of the results of his study, Dr Tarlton said that following government guidelines on dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids could be effective in reducing the burden of osteoarthritis. Fish oil is far more effective than the flax oil based supplement, but for vegetarians flax oil remains a viable alternative.

“Most diets in the developed world are lacking in omega-3, with modern diets having up to 30 times too much omega-6 and too little omega-3. Taking omega-3 will help redress this imbalance and may positively contribute to a range of other health problems such as heart disease and colitis.”

Further studies are needed to determine the influence of omega-3 fatty acids on established disease in guinea pigs, and to confirm the effects in human osteoarthritis, said Dr Tarlton.

Osteoarthritis affects around eight million people in the UK, and is caused when the cartilage at the ends of bones wears away and the underlying bone thickens, leading to stiff, painful joints. Currently, there is no effective treatment to slow down disease progression, and treatment is limited to pain relief and ultimately joint replacement.

Paper: Regulation of osteoarthritis by omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids in a naturally occurring model of disease, L. Knott, N.C. Avery, A.P. Hollander, J.F. Tarlton.  Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, Volume 19, Issue 9, September 2011.

Omega-3 research sheds light on inflammation trigger

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

BBSRC-funded scientists at the University of Birmingham have discovered a previously unknown step in early inflammation which is controlled by omega –3 and omega –6 fatty acids, potentially leading to clarification around conflicting health and diet advice on these two essential nutrients.

Dr Ed Rainger, from the Centre for Cardiovascular Sciences at the University, has discovered that a key product in the metabolism of omega –6 fatty acids is an essential signal for neutrophils (white blood cells that form an essential part of the immune system) to cross the endothelium, the thin layer of cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels, to work on inflammation.

Dr Rainger says the findings of the study, funded by BBSRC and the British Heart Foundation, will open up new possibilities: “The identification of these novel mechanisms by which inflammation is regulated may allow us to develop new therapies to intervene when the process of inflammation becomes pathological rather than physiological.”

These latest discoveries bolster the evidence that fish oils have anti-inflammatory effects in addition to other health benefits. Dr Rainger and his team have revealed new steps in the body’s response to tackling inflammation which researchers hope will lead to designing potential new drugs to tackle severe and chronic disease such as rheumatoid arthritis.

The team also found that the migration of neutrophils could be blocked by the increased levels of omega -3 generated after the endothelial cells had been supplemented with this omega –3 fatty acid.

Dr Rainger and his team conducted the study using a realistic, flow based system that models the process of inflammation at the interface of the circulating blood and inflamed tissue. They were then able to observe the effects of physiological levels of omega –3 and omega –6 fatty acids on the process of recruiting inflammatory blood cells such as neutrophils into the tissue. This process is regulated by endothelial cells lining the blood vessels.

Dr Ed Rainger, said: “Our findings are very significant. They support the idea that omega–6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory – that they are required to sustain a normal inflammatory response without which we would be prone to serious infection and tissue damage.”

Conversely, Dr Rainger has uncovered mechanistic evidence that supports the anti-inflammatory role of omega -3 fatty acids: “We’ve all heard about the health benefits of eating oily fish, and its beneficial effects on cardiovascular health, possibly due to their anti inflammatory properties, yet little is known about the normal cellular mechanisms by which omega –3 fatty acids produce their protective effects.”

Nutritionists believe that imbalances in omega –3 and –6 – may explain the rise of diseases such as asthma, coronary heart disease, cancers, autoimmunity and neurodegenerative diseases, all of which are believed to stem from inflammation in the body.

Paper: Fatty acids and Inflammation: novel interactions reveal a new step in neutrophil recruitment is published in PLoS Biology on 25 August.

Omega-3 Fish Oil EPA and DHA Reduce Inflammation and Loss of Cartilage Protein in Tissue Studies

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Omega-3s Reduce Inflammation and Loss of Cartilage Protein in Tissue Studies

Runaway inflammation characterizes many diseases, including heart disease, stroke and other types of brain injury, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, metabolic syndrome and others. As a result, one of the first-line therapies for several of these conditions is inflammation control. Sometimes, the medications that reduce inflammation and pain have undesirable side effects, especially when used for years. Having less damaging agents would help patient treatment and health. For that reason, the omega-3 fatty acids found mainly in fish and shellfish (omega-3s) are being actively investigated for their anti-inflammatory benefits in several diseases.

A relative new-comer to the list of maladies is osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that affects the cartilage where bones glide across each other, as in the knees, hips and spine. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage deteriorates, loses its ability to cushion the joints and becomes inflamed. Not surprisingly, the disease is very painful. The suggestion that omega-3s might reduce disease symptoms and cartilage degeneration is based on the known anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3s, their effectiveness in rheumatoid arthritis (which does not affect the cartilage), and encouraging results from studies in animals with the condition and findings from cultured cells.

Here we describe a study in the U.K. that examined the effect of omega-3s in cultured cartilage tissue under conditions of tissue breakdown. When inflammatory agents were added to the tissue, a protein characteristic of cartilage breakdown was released from the tissue. When low levels of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), one of the two main omega-3s in seafood, were added to the tissue, the release of the protein fell. High concentrations of EPA had little effect on the amount of protein released.

Next the researchers added DHA and repeated the experiments. Again, low levels of DHA reduced the release of the marker protein. The investigators also showed that inflammatory substances also diminished in the presence of the omega-3s, confirming their original reasoning that these fatty acids could reduce cartilage degeneration and likely did so by reducing inflammation.

There might be other ways that omega-3s reduce the inflammation and deterioration associated with osteoarthritis, but these studies demonstrate the potential of omega-3s to reduce some of the damage and perhaps ease the pain that goes with osteoarthritis. There is some evidence from animals that adding omega-3s to the diet improves the animal’s activity. Determining whether these fatty acids are effective in animals and humans with the disease will be an importa

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