The matrix metalloproteinases as pharmacological target in osteoarthritis: statins may be of therapeutic benefit

Med Hypotheses. 2007;69(3):557-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2007.01.042. Epub 2007 Mar 13.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common joint disease; however, current pharmacologic agents for OA are only symptomatic and they can not prevent the disease progression. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) produced by chondrocytes play an important role in the development of cartilage destruction in OA, and agents that can target against MMPs activity may be of therapeutical value. There were reports that statins can inhibit the secretion of MMPs in vitro and in vivo, which were believed to account for the plaque stabilizing effects of statins in the treatment of atherosclerosis. We based our hypothesis on that atherosclerosis possesses some aspects that are similar to that of osteoarthritis, such as inflammation and matrix degradation. Since statins have displayed great benefits in modifying the progression of atherosclerosis via anti-inflammatory and matrix-stabilizing mechanisms, it is conceivable that statins may also prevent the disease progression of osteoarthritis. Further work are needed to verify if statins can protect cartilage from destruction through inhibition of MMP secretion by chondrocytes, and their potential to be used as therapeutic agents in OA should be investigated.

MeSH terms

  • Atherosclerosis / pathology
  • Cartilage / metabolism
  • Cartilage / pathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Inflammation
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Osteoarthritis / enzymology*
  • Osteoarthritis / metabolism
  • Osteoarthritis / therapy*


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases