Anti-inflammatory and pro-anabolic effects of 5-aminosalicylic acid on human inflammatory osteoarthritis models

J Orthop Translat. 2022 Oct 29:38:106-116. doi: 10.1016/ eCollection 2023 Jan.


Background: Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common degenerative joint disease, mainly affecting the elderly worldwide, for which the drug treatment remains a major challenge. Low-grade inflammation plays a pivotal role in OA onset and progression. Exploration of notable anti-inflammatory and disease-modifying drugs on human samples could facilitate the evaluation of therapeutic strategies for OA.

Methods: The anti-inflammatory drug 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA) is a first-line drug for ulcerative colitis (UC), however no study has explored the effects of 5-ASA on articular chondrocytes. In this work, both in vitro (chondrocyte pellets) and ex vivo (osteochondral explants) human inflammatory OA models were applied to evaluate the effects of 5-ASA.

Results: In the inflammatory pellet model, 5-ASA remarkably downregulated the gene expression of interleukin-6 (IL-6), and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) while upregulating proteoglycan 4 (PRG4) and cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) gene expression. Total glycosaminoglycan (GAG) synthesis by pellets was markedly increased in 5-ASA-treated groups compared with the inflammatory group. In conditioned medium, inflammatory mediators (IL-8, nitric oxide) were markedly inhibited upon 5-ASA treatment. Moreover, histological staining showed 5-ASA retained proteoglycan content and inhibited degradation of extracellular matrix (ECM) core components, aggrecan (ACAN) and collagen type II (COL2). In the inflammatory explant model, 5-ASA mitigated signs of OA development by reducing inflammatory mediators and GAG loss.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that 5-ASA has anti-inflammatory and pro-anabolic effects on human chondrocyte pellet and osteochondral explant inflammatory OA models.

The translational potential of this article: Disease-modifying OA drugs are an unmet clinical need for the treatment of OA. Our study explored and demonstrated the anti-inflammatory and protective effects of 5-ASA on in vitro and ex vivo human inflammatory OA models, showing its translational potential for OA treatment.

Keywords: 5-aminosalicylic acid; Chondrocyte pellet; Inflammatory model; Osteoarthritis; Osteochondral explant; Treatment.