Grant Abstract: Fats, Fiber and Osteoarthritis

Grant Number: 5R01AR071950-02
PI Name: Felson
Project Title: Fats, Fiber and Osteoarthritis

Abstract: Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis affecting millions of
Americans. There are few effective treatments and none proven to delay structural deterioration
of the joint. Food supplement use is extremely popular among persons with OA in the hope that
they may help ameliorate disease; for some supplements, biological evidence points to the
likelihood of treatment effects. Evidence on the relation of supplements to OA outcomes would
help large numbers of affected persons make rational choices about supplement use and might
also identify new treatments for this common disabling disease.
Inflammation is a critical factor affecting pain and causing structural deterioration in the joint. Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation through effects on eicosanoids and have been found to be associated with reduced disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis (4). Omega-3 fatty acids supplement use is common but its relation to OA outcomes including incident disease and pain has not been investigated.
Magnesium (Mg++) is an abundant cation critical to the function of over 300 enzymes in the body. Dietary ingestion plays a major role in determining magnesium levels. Low dietary
intakes enhance inflammatory responses, leading to elevations in CRP levels. Mg++ also blocks
articular glutamate receptors which induce pain when stimulated. Animal and human studies
suggest that magnesium deficiency accelerates the development of OA.
The goal of this supplement is to examine the association between the constituents of two common food supplements, omega-3 fatty acids and Mg++ on new onset radiographic and
symptomatic OA in the knees and on chondrocalcinosis there. Because intake of both occurs
mostly in foods, we shall study both overall dietary intake (including supplements) and
supplements alone. To overcome limitations of previous studies with small numbers, we will use
pooled data from five large epidemiologic cohorts, each of them with longitudinal data on OA
and supplement use including MOST, the Framingham OA Study, the Osteoarthritis Initiative,
Health ABC and the Rotterdam Study. This supplement will extend and enrich the questions
being addressed in the parent funded grant which focuses on blood levels of lipids and their
relation with OA in the MOST study, one of the cohorts being included here.
Ultimately, this work will provide new and potential valuable insights into whether omega3 fatty acid or Mg++ intake affect the course of osteoarthritis and could offer new hope to persons with disease.

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