The gut microbiome-joint connection: implications in osteoarthritis

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Purpose of reviewOsteoarthritis is a debilitating disease leading to joint degeneration, inflammation, pain, and disability. Despite efforts to develop a disease modifying treatment, the only accepted and available clinical approaches involve palliation. Although many factors contribute to the development of osteoarthritis, the gut microbiome has recently emerged as an important pathogenic factor in osteoarthritis initiation and progression. This review examines the literature to date regarding the link between the gut microbiome and osteoarthritis.Recent findingsStudies showing correlations between serum levels of bacterial metabolites and joint degeneration were the first links connecting a dysbiosis of the gut microbiome with osteoarthritis. Further investigations have demonstrated that microbial community shifts induced by antibiotics, a germ-free environment or high-fat are important underlying factors in joint homeostasis and osteoarthritis. It follows that strategies to manipulate the microbiome have demonstrated efficacy in mitigating joint degeneration in osteoarthritis. Moreover, we have observed that dietary supplementation with nutraceuticals that are joint protective may exert their influence via shifts in the gut microbiome.SummaryAlthough role of the microbiome in osteoarthritis is an area of intense study, no clear mechanism of action has been determined. Increased understanding of how the two factors interact may provide mechanistic insight into osteoarthritis and lead to disease modifying treatments.

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