New research shows urolithin A improves mitochondrial health and reduces joint cartilage damage

As well as alleviating pain in osteoarthritis sufferers, a study indicates that urolithin A shows promise for improving mobility with beneficial effects on structural damage in joints.

Amazentis, a spin-off of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) which aims to pioneer scientific breakthroughs in cellular health and nutrition, has published new pre-clinical results.

Writing in the journal Aging Cell, scientists at Amazentis and Scripps Research report on the joint health benefits of gut microbiome postbiotic urolithin A, noting that for the first time a compound has been shown to improve mitochondrial health in an experimental model of osteoarthritis (OA) [1].

Longevity.Technology: This study showed that treatment with Amazentis’ proprietary urolithin A supplement, Mitopure, significantly improved mitochondrial health in human cartilage cells taken from both healthy and osteoarthritic knee joints. The study also showed that supplementation with Mitopure for eight weeks protected against osteoarthritis disease progression in an experimental model.

Occurring when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones wears down, osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. The risk of osteoarthritis increases with age, and is more common in women than in men. There’s no cure for osteoarthritis, so instead it is managed with exercise, weight loss, supportive devices, medications and, potentially, surgery if other options aren’t working. Now it would seem that improving mitochondrial health through urolithin A supplementation could be beneficial.

These findings highlight Mitopure’s benefits for joint and mitochondrial health. Mitopure works by supporting the cells’ ability to renew their powerplants, the mitochondria, during the aging process. This change is associated with age-related problems in various tissues, including osteoarthritis.

Previous research has shown Mitopure can improve mitochondrial health and muscle function in both older and middle-aged human populations [2]. This new paper extends these benefits to cells in key joints such as the knee. Osteoarthritis is the most common age-related joint disorder, characterised by degradation of cartilage and other tissues, severe pain and impaired mobility.

“There are currently no effective solutions to treat osteoarthritis, a condition that is painful and limits the mobility of hundreds of millions of older people around the world,” said Martin Lotz MD, lead author on the paper and Professor of Molecular Medicine at Scripps Research in California. “We tested Urolithin A in preclinical models of osteoarthritis and showed it has potential to both reduce inflammation and improve mitochondrial health, suggesting it may be a promising solution to support joint health and quality of life during aging [3].”

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“This study is important and exciting as it shows, for the first time, that Urolithin A can increase mitochondrial health in living joint tissue,” said Davide D’Amico, first author on the paper and R&D Group Leader with Amazentis. “It highlights the important role of mitophagy in maintaining healthy functioning joints throughout life [3].”

In the study, Mitopure showed two key beneficial effects on cartilage cells from both healthy donors and OA patients:

  • It significantly induced the recycling of aged and damaged mitochondria (mitophagy), assessed by imaging and molecular biology assays.
  • It significantly increased the activity of mitochondria, measured as mitochondrial respiration, – that is, the ability of these organelles to consume oxygen and produce energy for our cells.

The second part of the study focused on the effect of supplementing Mitopure for two months on an experimental pre-clinical model of osteoarthritis. This model mimics the same symptoms experienced by people suffering from osteoarthritis – progressive cartilage damage, increased pain and inflammation.

  • Analysis of knee joint sections by a pathologist indicated that supplementation with Mitopure decreased joint tissue degradation.
  • Mitopure supplementation also reduced OA associated leg pain and exerted a mild anti-inflammatory effect on the disease model.
  • Better joint heath after Mitopure administration was associated with significantly enhanced mitochondrial health, including higher rates of removing worn out mitochondria (mitophagy) and increased regeneration of new, functional mitochondria.

“It was great to collaborate with Scripps Research to expand the body of evidence on the health applications of Urolithin A into joint health,” said Chris Rinsch, CEO and co-founder of Amazentis. “It’s exciting to see a compound and mechanism of action that is benefiting both muscle and joints. We remain committed to delivering products that are clinically proven to have a meaningful impact on people’s health [3].”

The new results are significant because they add to growing evidence of the benefits of Mitopure on age-related conditions. Recent studies showed that Mitopure can improve mitochondrial health and counteract age-related muscle function decline in both healthy elderly and middle-aged overweight subjects [2]. Together, the latest research supports a combined beneficial action of urolithin A in both muscle and joints.

[1] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/acel.13662
[2] https://www.cell.com/cell-reports-medicine/fulltext/S2666-3791(22)00158-6
[3] https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20220707005266/en/

The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Photograph: Ketut Subiyanto/Pexels

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