Stigmasterol blocks cartilage degradation in rabbit model of osteoarthritis
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Stigmasterol has been shown exihbit anti-osteoarthritic properties in vitro studies. However, the in vivo effects of stigmasterol on cartilage are still unclear. This study investigated the anti-osteoarthritic properties of stigmasterol on cartilage degradation in a rabbit model of osteoarthritis (OA). Twenty rabbits underwent bilateral anterior cruciate ligament transection (ACLT) to induce OA. Five rabbits were used as normal control. Two weeks after operation, the rabbits were randomly divided into two groups. Each group of 10 rabbits received intra-articular injection with 0.3 ml of stigmasterol in left knees and vehicle in right knees, once weekly. Group 1 was killed 6 weeks after ACLT and 2 were sacrificed 9 weeks after ACLT. The knee joints were assessed by gross morphology, histology and gene expression analysis. We found that expression of genes encoding matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) was significantly higher while tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinase (TIMP)-1 was significantly lower in the both joints of the two OA groups compared to normal contrals. Stigmasterol reduced the cartilage degradation as assessed by histological analysis and markedly suppressed MMPs expression both in group 1 and group 2. Our results suggest that stigmasterol may be considered as a possible therapeutical agent in the treatment of OA.
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