Bioactive lipids in osteoarthritis: risk or benefit?

Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2018 Jan;30(1):108-113. doi: 10.1097/BOR.0000000000000463.


Purpose of review: Lipids are bioactive molecules that can affect several biological functions. Technological developments allowing identification of novel lipid species and the study of their function have led to a significant advance in our understanding of lipid biology and their involvement in various diseases. This is particularly relevant for diseases associated with obesity in which lipid accumulation could be involved in pathogenesis. Here, we focus on osteoarthritis, a chronic joint disease aggravated by obesity, and will present the latest findings regarding the involvement of lipids in disease development and progression.

Recent findings: Recent studies indicate a possible involvement of n-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acid and their anti-inflammatory and proresolving derivatives in osteoarthritis. These lipids were identified in the osteoarthritis joint, were found to have beneficial effects on cartilage in vitro and reduced pain in humans and animal models. Moreover, increased levels of cholesterol transport molecules, such as LDL particles, were recently associated with a higher risk of developing hand osteoarthritis in women and with more severe inflammation and osteophyte formation in osteoarthritis animal models.

Summary: Together, these findings indicate that lipids are a promising target for future therapeutic intervention in osteoarthritis and open exciting possibilities for future research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthralgia
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Disease Progression
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Lipids
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / metabolism*
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Osteoarthritis / drug therapy
  • Osteoarthritis / metabolism*
  • Osteophyte / metabolism


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Lipids
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Cholesterol