This review summarizes the effects of the standardized proprietary bark extract of the French maritime pine (Pycnogenol®) in mild osteoarthritis (OA), stage 1 and 2. The extract exerts antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and chondroprotective effects in vitro and in vivo. Its phenolic acids as well as catechin and taxifolin are quickly absorbed. Active metabolites, produced by gut microbiota in the intestinal tract from oligomeric procyanidins, appear in blood 6 h following ingestion and remain for at least 14 h, providing a long-lasting flow of anti-inflammatory substances for relief of OA symptoms. These constituents of Pycnogenol could be detected in serum, blood cells, and synovial fluid of OA patients. The resulting inhibition of cartilage-destructing proteases and pain-producing cyclo-oxygenases provides the basis for relief from pain, improvement of stiffness, enhanced mobility, and well-being in three clinical studies with the pine bark extract as an adjunct supplement. Sparing the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, supplementation with the pine bark extract reduced gastric complications and hospital admissions of OA patients. Because of its favorable safety profile and sustained anti-inflammatory action, Pycnogenol represents an option as an add-on supplement for OA patients.
Keywords: WOMAC scores; maritime pine extract USP; matrix metalloproteases; osteoarthritis; procyanidins; taxifolin.