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Zinc Can Affect Osteoarthritis Progression

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What is zinc? Zinc is a mineral which is essential in the performance of bodily functions. It is naturally present in many foods while it is also a component of supplements, lozenges and cold remedies.


Zinc is a mineral which is involved in the metabolism of cells and in the activity of enzymes in the body. It also boosts immune function and protects the body against illnesses, as well as it helps in the production of protein, the healing of wounds, the synthesis of DNA and the division of cells. Zinc also supports normal development in various life stages such as pregnancy, adolescence and childhood. The body cannot produce and store zinc so that it should be taken in by the body through food.

Zinc and Osteoarthritis

Recent news has it that zinc may play a role in the progression of osteoarthritis. As we know, osteoarthritis is a cause for disability among many people. This condition affects the joints in such a way that it causes damage. For us to understand how osteoarthritis gives rise to its numerous signs and symptoms, let us first review a little information about bones and joints. Normally, the ends of the bones are covered by cartilage; this helps the joint move freely and helps to cushion bone ends. In people with osteoarthritis, cartilage breaks down and becomes thinner; the ends of the bones are unprotected and the joint does not move smoothly. Osteoarthritis often affects people over the age of 45 however it can also develop in younger people.

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Osteoarthritis can have a lot of signs and symptoms which often vary from person to person. Symptoms also depend on what joints are affected. Osteoarthritis often develops slowly over months and years and gives rise to pain and stiffness of the joints. These feelings are often worse when the patient is resting and when there is no movement of the joint. These symptoms often affect the way a person does his or her daily activities such as walking, doing housework or even opening jars.

Much have not been studied about the true causes of osteoarthritis, though there are some risk factors known to predispose to this disease such as being overweight, knee injuries, heavy lifting, repetitive movement of the joints, and history of osteoarthritis in the family. It is often diagnosed by symptoms, physical examination, x-rays and blood tests.

A recent study published in the Cell Press February 13th in the journal Cell have found out that tissue damage in osteoarthritis is often caused by a molecular pathway that often involves the regulation and response to zinc levels within cartilage cells. The researchers from Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology have found out that a protein called ZIP8 transports zinc inside cartilage cells and that this protein sets off a cascade of molecular events that lead to destruction of cartilage in mice. These findings are helpful for future research regarding drug targets for osteoarthritis.

The researchers commented that they have not encountered previous evidence linking to zinc as playing a causal role in osteoarthritis. In their study, they have revealed the series of molecular events of the osteoarthritis zinc pathway, a pathway that leads to joint tissue destruction in osteoarthritis. The researchers tested their hypothesis in a mouse model then examined cartilage from osteoarthritis patients. They found that high levels of a protein called ZIP8 were present in the plasma membrane of cartilage cells. This protein is involved in zinc influx and in increasing levels of matrix-degrading enzymes in cartilage cells. Thus the researchers hypothesized that the zinc-ZIP8-MTF1 pathway can cause cartilage destruction in osteoarthritis.

To know more about zinc, you may check our other articles on this site.