Breaking News on Dairy Processing & Markets

News > R&D

Mouse data: Omega-3s reduce osteoarthritis severity

Post a commentBy Anne Bruce , 17-Jul-2014

"Our results suggest that dietary factors play a more significant role than mechanical factors in the link between obesity and osteoarthritis..."

Mice fed omega-3s had healthier joints than those fed diets high in saturated fats and omega-6 fatty acids, Duke University researchers say.

The findings, published this month in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases) suggest that certain dietary fats – not just obesity – may contribute to worsening osteoarthritis.

"Our results suggest that dietary factors play a more significant role than mechanical factors in the link between obesity and osteoarthritis," said Farshid Guilak, PhD, professor of orthopaedic surgery at Duke and the study's senior author.

Primary risk factor

Obesity is one of the primary risk factors for osteoarthritis, although the mechanisms linking these conditions are not fully understood, researchers noted. It has been assumed that increased weight wears the joints out, but this doesn't explain why arthritis is also found in hands and other joints that don't bear weight.

Guilak and his colleagues began studying systemic factors other than body weight to determine their effect on arthritis, and in an earlier study in obese mice, found that the lack of appetite hormone leptin predicted whether the mice had arthritis.

"This made us think that maybe it's not how much weight you gain, but what you eat," Guilak said.


Here the researchers focused on mice with osteoarthritis of the knee caused by injury to the joint. Arthritis resulting from trauma or injury is thought to account for 10 to 15% of all cases of arthritis.

At four weeks of age, mice were fed a low-fat diet or one of the three high-fat diets: One rich in saturated fat; one rich in omega-6 fatty acids; and one rich in omega-6 fatty acids but supplemented with a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids.

At 16 weeks of age, mice underwent surgery to induce knee osteoarthritis in the left hind limb, and ears were punched using 1 mm (right) and 1.5 mm (left) diameter ear punches to examine wound healing. To determine how diet affected behaviour and activity levels, mice were monitored at 6, 14 and 24 weeks of age.

Saturated fat

The researchers found that arthritis was significantly associated with the mice's diets, but not with body weight. The mice that ate diets high in saturated fat or omega-6 fatty acids experienced significant worsening of their arthritis, while mice consuming a small supplement of omega-3s had healthier joints.

"While omega-3 fatty acids aren't reversing the injury, they appear to slow the progression of arthritis in this group of mice," Guilak said. "In fact, omega-3 fatty acids eliminated the detrimental effects of obesity in obese mice."

The researchers also looked at the mice's ability to heal wounds, to help them to understand the relationships between arthritis and wound healing. In mice consuming omega-3s, the ear punch healed more quickly than it did in animals that did not receive the supplement.

Guilak said the balance between omega-3s and omega-6s in most western diets was, “way off the scale in the Western diet.”



Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases

July 11, 2014, ( )

Dietary fatty acid content as a primary regulator of the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis

Authors: Chia-Lung Wu, Deeptee Jain, Jenna N. McNeill, Dianne Little, John A. Anderson, Janet L. Huebner, Virginia B. Kraus, Ramona M. Rodriguiz, William C. Wetsel, and Farshid Guilak

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter

Get FREE access to authoritative breaking news, videos, podcasts, webinars and white papers. SUBSCRIBE

Post a comment

Comment title *
Your comment *
Your name *
Your email *

We will not publish your email on the site

I agree to Terms and Conditions

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.

Key Industry Events


Access all events listing

Our events, Events from partners...