Osteoarthritis (OA), the most common chronic rheumatic disease, is mainly characterized by a progressive degradation of the hyaline articular cartilage, which is essential for correct joint function, lubrication, and resistance. Articular cartilage disturbances lead to joint failure, pain, and disability. Hyaline cartilage is also present in the growth plate and plays a key role in longitudinal bone growth. Alterations of this cartilage by diverse pathologies have been related to longitudinal bone growth inhibition (LBGI), which leads to growth retardation. Diet can play a crucial role in processes involved in the OA and LBGI's onset and evolution. Specifically, there is ample evidence pointing to the negative impacts of caffeine consumption on hyaline cartilage. However, its effects on these tissues have not been reviewed. Accordingly, in this review, we summarize all current knowledge in the PubMed database about caffeine catabolic effects on articular and growth plate cartilage. Specifically, we focus on the correlation between OA and LBGI with caffeine prenatal or direct exposure. Overall, there is ample evidence indicating that caffeine intake negatively affects the physiology of both articular and growth plate cartilage, increasing consumers predisposition to suffer OA and LBGI. As a result, caffeine consumption should be avoided for these pathologies.
Keywords: articular cartilage; caffeine; catabolism; growth plate cartilage; growth retardation; long bone growth inhibition; osteoarthritis.