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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Protective effects of total fraction of avocado/soybean unsaponifiables on the structural changes in experimental dog osteoarthritis: inhibition of nitric oxide synthase and matrix metalloproteinase-13

Christelle Boileau1, Johanne Martel-Pelletier1, Judith Caron1, Philippe Msika2, Georges B Guillou2, Caroline Baudouin2 and Jean-Pierre Pelletier1*

Author Affiliations

1 Osteoarthritis Research Unit, University of Montreal Hospital Centre (CRCHUM), Notre-Dame Hospital, Sherbrooke Street East, Montreal, Quebec H2L 4M1, Canada

2 Laboratoires Expanscience, Avenue de l'Arche, 92419 Courbevoie Cedex, France

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2009, 11:R41  doi:10.1186/ar2649

Published: 16 March 2009

Abstract

Introduction

The aims of this study were, first, to investigate the in vivo effects of treatment with avocado/soybean unsaponifiables on the development of osteoarthritic structural changes in the anterior cruciate ligament dog model and, second, to explore their mode of action.

Methods

Osteoarthritis was induced by anterior cruciate ligament transection of the right knee in crossbred dogs. There were two treatment groups (n = 8 dogs/group), in which the animals received either placebo or avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (10 mg/kg per day), which were given orally for the entire duration of the study (8 weeks). We conducted macroscopic and histomorphological analyses of cartilage and subchondral bone of the femoral condyles and/or tibial plateaus. We also conducted immunohistochemical analyses in cartilage for the following antigens: inducible nitric oxide synthase, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-1, MMP-13, a disintegrin and metalloproteinase domain with thrombospondin motifs (ADAMTS)4 and ADAMTS5.

Results

The size of macroscopic lesions on the tibial plateaus was decreased (P = 0.04) in dogs treated with the avocado/soybean unsaponifiables. Histologically, in these animals the severity of cartilage lesions on both tibial plateaus and femoral condyles, and the cellular infiltration in synovium were significantly decreased (P = 0.0002 and P = 0.04, respectively). Treatment with avocado/soybean unsaponifiables also reduced loss of subchondral bone volume (P < 0.05) and calcified cartilage thickness (P = 0.01) compared with placebo. Immunohistochemical analysis of cartilage revealed that avocado/soybean unsaponifiables significantly reduced the level of inducible nitric oxide synthase (P < 0.05) and MMP-13 (P = 0.01) in cartilage.

Conclusions

This study demonstrates that treatment with avocado/soybean unsaponifiables can reduce the development of early osteoarthritic cartilage and subchondral bone lesions in the anterior cruciate ligament dog model of osteoarthritis. This effect appears to be mediated through the inhibition of inducible nitric oxide synthase and MMP-13, which are key mediators of the structural changes that take place in osteoarthritis.