Research ArticleOsteoarthritis

Teriparatide as a Chondroregenerative Therapy for Injury-Induced Osteoarthritis

Science Translational Medicine  21 Sep 2011:
Vol. 3, Issue 101, pp. 101ra93
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3002214

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Extending the Service Life of Arthritic Joints

Every year, millions of people with osteoarthritis are forced to scale back their physical activities hoping to alleviate pain and increase the longevity of their degenerating joints. The problem is serious: A decade from now, 25% or more of the U.S. population are predicted to suffer from osteoarthritis. The hallmark problem in osteoarthritis is the progressive and irreversible loss of cartilage. Ultimately, the only option is to surgically replace the lost cartilage with metal and plastic. But are there alternative strategies that could lead to cartilage replacement and reduce the cycle of pain and reduced quality of life? In this issue of Science Translational Medicine, Sampson and colleagues report that a naturally occurring hormone called parathyroid hormone (trade name Forteo), already approved by the Food and Drug Administration to build bone, can also boost the buildup of cartilage in a mouse model of injury-induced osteoarthritis.

In this mouse model, injury to the meniscus and ligaments of the knee initiates a slow process of cartilage degeneration that is comparable to that seen in people suffering a similar injury. To approximate the clinical situation of treating someone with symptomatic osteoarthritis caused by a past trauma, the researchers administered parathyroid hormone to mice that were already osteoarthritic because of an injury to the medial meniscus and medial collateral ligament. Tissue and molecular analyses of the injured knee joints revealed that after 1 month of daily treatment with parathyroid hormone, the cartilage layer was 32% thicker than in injured mice that did not receive the hormone. In addition, the investigators noted an increase in production of matrix molecules by chondrocytes (the cells that produce cartilage), suppression of genes associated with inappropriate chondrocyte maturation, and a reduction in cartilage breakdown. The ability of parathyroid hormone to boost the addition of new cartilage matrix while blocking its degradation in osteoarthritic joints suggests that it may be a useful therapeutic for treating patients with osteoarthritis, a pervasive clinical condition with surgery as the only current solution.


  • These authors contributed equally to this work.