Objective: Resveratrol (trans-3,4',5-trihydroxystilbene) is a phytoalexin found in high concentration in the skins of grapes and red wines which has been shown to have antiinflammatory, anticancerogen and antioxidant properties. Resveratrol is a potent and specific inhibitor of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappaB). Resveratrol also inhibits COX-2 gene expression and enzyme activity. We aimed to determine the in vivo effects of intra-articular injections of resveratrol on cartilage and synovium in an experimental osteoarthritis (OA) model in rabbits.
Methods: As OA model, rabbits underwent unilateral anterior cruciate ligament transection (ACLT). Five weeks after test group was injected with 10 microMol/kg resveratrol in dimethylsulphoxide (DMSO) in the knees once daily for two weeks and as the control group at the same time DMSO was injected into the knees. All rabbits were killed one week after the last injection. Cartilage tissue and synovium were evaluated with a histological scoring system.
Results: Histological evaluation of cartilage tissue by H&E staining revealed a significantly reduced average cartilage tissue destruction score of 1.7 in the resveratrol group versus 2.8 in the control group (p = 0.016). Loss of matrix proteoglycan content in cartilage was also much lower, as determined by safranin O staining. Scores of synovial inflammation didn't show difference between groups (1.3 vs 2.2; p = 0.057).
Conclusion: A characteristic parameter in arthritis is the progressive loss of articular cartilage. This study suggests that intraarticular injections of resveratrol starting at the onset of disease may protect cartilage against the development of experimentally induced OA.