Current drugs for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis-associated bone loss come with concerns about their continued use. Thus, it is necessary to identify natural products with similar effects, but with fewer or no side effects. We determined whether tart cherry (TC) could be used as a supplement to prevent inflammation-mediated bone loss in tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-overexpressing transgenic (TG) mice. TG mice were assigned to a 0%, 5%, or 10% TC diet, with a group receiving infliximab as a positive control. Age-matched wild-type (WT) littermates fed a 0% TC diet were used as a normal control. Mice were monitored by measurement of body weight. Bone health was evaluated via serum biomarkers, microcomputed tomography (µCT), molecular assessments, and mechanical testing. TC prevented TNF-mediated weight loss, while it did not suppress elevated levels of interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-6. TC also protected bone structure from inflammation-induced bone loss with a reduced ratio of receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand (RANKL)/osteoprotegerin (OPG) to a degree comparable to infliximab. Furthermore, unlike with infliximab, TC exhibited a moderate improvement in TNF-mediated decline in bone stiffness. Thus, TC could be used as a prophylactic regimen against future fragility fractures in the context of highly chronic inflammation.
Keywords: OPG; RANKL; Runx2; TNF; bone mass; infliximab; osteoblast; osteoclast; rheumatoid arthritis; tart cherry.