Research Article: Oral shea nut oil triterpene concentrate supplement ameliorates pain and histological assessment of articular cartilage deterioration in an ACLT injured rat knee osteoarthritis model

Date Published: April 19, 2019

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Ing-Jung Chen, Sheng-Hsiung Lin, Chih-Shung Wong, Ashraf B. Abdel-Naim.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a multifactorial joint disease and a common disabling condition in the elderly population. The associated pain and pathohistological changes in cartilage are common features of OA in both humans and animal models. Shea nut oil extract (SheaFlex75) contains a high triterpenoid concentration and has demonstrated anti-inflammatory and antiarthritic effects in both human and animal studies. In this study, we aim to investigate the potential of SheaFlex75 to prevent articular cartilage deterioration in a rat model of chronic OA progression. By employing anterior cruciate ligament transection (ACLT) with medial meniscectomy (MMx)-induced OA, we found attenuation of both early and chronic onset OA pain and cartilage degeneration in ACLT+MMx rats receiving SheaFlex75 dietary supplementation. Under long-term oral administration, the rats with induced OA presented sustained protection of both pain and OA cartilage integrity compared to the OA-control rats. Moreover, rats subjected to long-term SheaFlex75 ingestion showed normal biochemical profiles (AST, BUN and total cholesterol) and presented relatively lower triglycerides (TGs) and body weights than the OA-control rats, which suggested the safety of prolonged use of this oil extract. Based on the present evidence, preventive management is advised to delay/prevent onset and progression in OA patients. Therefore, we suggest that SheaFlex75 may be an effective management strategy for symptom relief and cartilage protection in patients with both acute and chronic OA.

Partial Text

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a multifactorial joint disease and a common disabling condition of the global population [1, 2]. Although disease progression is slow, the associated joint pain and stiffness lead to reduced physical function and quality of life and frequent physician visits by the affected population [3, 4]. The knee joint is the most affected site of OA in aged people, and the incidence increases with age [5]. According to a case-control study report, 69% of first knee OA consultations occur between 55 and 74 years of age, and the prevalence of knee OA is estimated to be 12.5% in those aged ≥45 years [6]. At least one episode of knee pain is reported in approximately 25% of individuals aged over 55 years [7] each year. In addition to aging, other major risk factors associated with knee OA are obesity and previous knee trauma [8]. Management of the associated factors is implemented as an important OA treatment strategy.

In our previous report [23], we found that oral supplementation of SheaFlex75 immediately after ACLT+MMx surgery showed a preventive effect for cartilage deterioration in ACLT+MMx rats. This early initiation of treatment showed a significant effect on attenuation of OA progression. However, previous reports claimed that ACLT+MMx-induced knee injury and focal cartilage changes were observed from the first week and that significant cartilage defects took 4–6 weeks to develop [27]. To better reflect the real conditions of human, people usually seek medical help after symptomatic OA developed, in our current study, we administered SheaFlex75 two weeks after ACLT+MMx, followed by a longer duration (24 weeks) of observation to mimic the real clinical condition of chronic OA progression.