Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic osteoarthropathy characterized by the progressive degeneration of articular cartilage and synovial inflammation. Early OA clinical treatments involve intra-articular injection of glucocorticoids, oral acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are used for anti-inflammation and pain relief. However, long-term use of these agents will lead to inevitable side effects, even aggravate cartilage loss. At present, there are no disease-modifying OA drugs (DMOADs) yet approved by regulatory agencies. Polarization regulation of synovial macrophages is a new target for OA treatment. Inhibiting M1 polarization and promoting M2 polarization of synovial macrophages can alleviate synovial inflammation, relieve joint pain and inhibit articular cartilage degradation, which is a promising strategy for OA treatment. In this study, we describe the molecular mechanisms of macrophage polarization and its key role in the development of OA. Subsequently, we summarize the latest progress of strategies for OA treatment through macrophage reprogramming, including small molecule compounds (conventional western medicine and synthetic compounds, monomer compounds of traditional Chinese medicine), biomacromolecules, metal/metal oxides, cells, and cell derivatives, and interprets the molecular mechanisms, hoping to provide some information for DMOADs development.
Keywords: Disease-modifying OA drugs (DMOADs); Macrophage polarization; Osteoarthritis; Synovitis.
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