Everyone succumbs to osteoarthritis as they age. Osteoarthritis causes pain and stiffness in the joints and is the most common form of arthritis. However protection or sparring of our joints from progressive degeneration due to osteoarthritis could be well determined by the endocannabioid system which is found in the synovial tissue and fluid that surround joints.
A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Edinburgh is suggesting a strong link between osteoarthritis and the endocannabioid system. The endocannabinoid system is composed of cannabinoid receptors (which are more popularly known for managing the body’s response to the psychoactive effects of cannabis) and endocannabinoid ligands. The type 2 cannabinoid receptor (CB2), is proving to be a significant source of defence against this potentially debilitating disease, which can affect all ages and is particularly common among the elderly.
The findings, which offer the eventual promise of new forms of protection, were presented at the 41st European Calcified Tissue Society Congress, held in Prague on May 17 – 20, 2014, by Professor Stuart Ralston, Arthritis Research UK Professor of Rheumatology at the University of Edinburgh. Prof Ralston described how a study of mice with destabilised knee joints showed that cartilage degeneration, which lies at the heart of osteoarthritis, was up to 40% more severe in mice who were deficient in CB2 receptors, when compared to ‘normal’ mice, with the figure reaching up to 60% more severe among aged mice that developed spontaneous osteoarthritis and were deficient in CB2 receptors, when compared to their aged ‘normal’ counterparts.
The study also showed that a synthesised cannabinoid ligand, HU308, significantly inhibited the progression of arthritis in younger mice with normal levels of CB2 and had no effect on those with CB2 receptor deficiency.
Well I know it’s a long way to study the role of the CB2 pathway to develop treatments of osteoarthritis. We are heading in the right direction.