BUFFALO, N.Y. -- While scientists ponder potential new treatments for rheumatoid arthritis at the American College of Rheumatology meeting in Philadelphia, they should not overlook potential nutritional approaches.
A study lead by Jaya Venkatraman, Ph.D., UB associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, has shown that in a mouse model, a combination of fish oil and vitamin E reduced the levels of inflammation-inducing cytokines, proteins that cause the joint swelling, pain and tenderness characteristic of this disease.
That study, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, was named best scientific paper of the year this October by the American College of Nutrition.
Venkatraman said results using the mouse model show that fish oil and vitamin E are promising potential therapies for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
"This mouse model for arthritis displays symptoms very similar to what happens in humans," she said. "The combination of fish oil, with its omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin E appears to help restore the balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines.
"It probably can't prevent development of rheumatoid arthritis, but it may delay symptoms and allow a reduction in other medication. People who normally had to take 10 aspirins a day, for example, may be able to take five. This therapy also seems to improve function."
In this study, Venkatraman used mice that over-express the lpr gene that causes fast aging, immuonological abnormalities and induces development of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. These diseases are characterized by cartilage destruction, known to be caused in part by an abnormal production of pro-inflammatory proteins that act as though cartilage has been invaded by foreign proteins and fight to destroy them.