A new study shows treatment with calcitonin, a hormone, effectivelyprevented erosion of knee cartilage in rat models of osteoarthritis.Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease and is related tocartilage breakdown in the joints which can lead to joint damage.
Calcitonin is currently used to treat Paget’s disease of the bone andosteoporosis, as previous studies have shown that the hormone reduces boneloss. But researchers say these results suggest that calcitonin may also helpprevent the joint destruction associated with osteoarthritis (OA).
New Option for OA
Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder and affects more than 10%of Americans. Treatment usually addresses easing the pain caused by jointstiffness and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis.
To date, no drug has been approved to prevent the gradual loss of cartilagecaused by the disease. But a new understanding of the progression of thedisease in recent years has prompted a surge of interest in developingdisease-modifying osteoarthritis drugs aimed at potentially preventing thedisease in those at risk, such as postmenopausal women.
Loss of estrogen from age or other causes increases the risk ofosteoporosis. Other research has suggested that hormone replacement therapyhelps protect postmenopausal women from osteoarthritis. This study showed thatestrogen therapy and calcitonin given to rats helped reduce the rise incompounds indicative of joint destruction of osteoarthritis.
Calcitonin and estrogen also worked effectively in protecting againstsurface erosions of joint cartilage.
“Calcitonin treatment may counter the acceleration of cartilage degradationand the related rise of surface erosions,” writes researcher Bodil-CecilieSondergaard, of Nordic Bioscience Diagnostics in Herlev, Denmark, andcolleagues.
Researchers say these results are only preliminary, but they suggest thatcalcitonin merits further research in human clinical trials.