Besides its harmful cardiovascular effects, high cholesterol may also prompt mitochondrial oxidative stress, according to recent research.* This can kill cartilage cells, leading to osteoarthritis.
The study provided innovative proof-of-concept of the possible use of oxidant reducers to target mitochondria as a means of treating osteoarthritis.
“Our team has already begun working alongside dietitians to try to educate the public about healthy eating and how to keep cholesterol levels at a manageable level that won’t damage joints,” said researcher Indira Prasadam, PhD.
For the study, researchers used two animal models: one consisted of mice with altered genes that led to them having hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), the other was made up of unaltered rats. Both animal models were fed either a control normal diet or a high cholesterol diet. Surgery was then performed on the rodents to create a condition analogous to human knee injuries that lead to osteoarthritis.
Both animal models on the high cholesterol diet had worse osteoarthritis than the animals fed a normal diet. But the ones given mitochondrion-targeted antioxidants and the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin had the least severe osteoarthritis of all.
Editor’s Note: “Just when we thought all the angles on osteoarthritis had been uncovered, a new lead like this comes along,” remarked Thoru Pederson, PhD, editor-in-chief of the FASEB Journal. “The focus of hypercholesterolemia, whether familial or sporadic, has, of course, always been on arterial disease. But here we have a fascinating new discovery.”