Physiologic and pathologic effects of dietary free fatty acids on cells of the joint

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2019 Mar;1440(1):36-53. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13999. Epub 2019 Jan 15.


Fatty acids (FAs) are potent organic compounds that not only can be used as an energy source during nutrient deprivation but are also involved in several essential signaling cascades in cells. Therefore, a balanced intake of different dietary FAs is critical for the maintenance of cellular functions and tissue homeostasis. A diet with an imbalanced fat composition creates a risk for developing metabolic syndrome and various musculoskeletal diseases, including osteoarthritis (OA). In this review, we summarize the current state of knowledge and mechanistic insights regarding the role of dietary FAs, such as saturated FAs, omega-6 polyunsaturated FAs (PUFAs), and omega-3 PUFAs on joint inflammation and OA pathogeneses. In particular, we review how different types of dietary FAs and their derivatives distinctly affect a variety of cells within the joint, including chondrocytes, osteoblasts, osteoclasts, and synoviocytes. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of FAs on metabolic behavior, anabolic, and catabolic processes, as well as the inflammatory response of joint cells, may help identify therapeutic targets for the prevention of metabolic joint diseases.

Keywords: arthritis; bone; cartilage; diabetes; obesity; synovium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chondrocytes / drug effects
  • Connective Tissue / metabolism
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Joint Diseases / pathology
  • Joint Diseases / prevention & control
  • Joints / cytology
  • Joints / drug effects*
  • Metabolic Diseases / pathology
  • Metabolic Diseases / prevention & control
  • Osteoblasts / drug effects
  • Osteoclasts / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction
  • Synoviocytes / drug effects


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified