The Mediterranean diet appears to be beneficial for osteoarthritis (OA), but the few data available regarding the association between the diet and the condition are limited to X-ray and clinical findings. The current study aimed to investigate the association between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and knee cartilage morphology, assessed using magnetic resonance (MRI) in a cohort of North American participants. Seven hundred eighty-three participants in the Osteoarthritis Initiative (59.8% females; mean age 62.3 years) in possession of a MRI assessment (a coronal 3D FLASH with Water Excitation MR sequence of the right knee) were enrolled in our cross-sectional study. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was evaluated using a validated Mediterranean diet score (aMED). The strength of the association between aMED and knee MRI parameters was gauged using an adjusted linear regression analysis, expressed as standardized betas with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Using an adjusted linear regression analysis, each increase of one standard deviation (SD) in the aMED corresponded to a significant increase in the central medial femoral cartilage volume (beta = 0.12; 95%CI 0.09 to 0.15), in the mean central medial femoral cartilage thickness (beta = 0.13; 95%CI 0.01 to 0.17), in the cartilage thickness of the mean central medial tibiofemoral compartment (beta = 0.12; 95%CI 0.09 to 0.15), and in the cartilage volume of the medial tibiofemoral compartment (beta = 0.09; 95%CI 0.06 to 0.12). Higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet was found to be associated with a significant improvement in knee cartilage as assessed by MRI, even after adjusting for potential confounding factors.
Keywords: Aged; Healthy aging; Knee osteoarthritis; Lifestyle; MRI; Mediterranean diet.