Study: High cholesterol does not cause knee osteoarthritis

A February 2022 paper (1) says studies suggest an association between elevated total serum cholesterol, particularly low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and osteoarthritis. But the study also askes, is there one? That is what the researchers of this study asked. In this study, the researchers followed patients for seven years, as the researchers note repeated knee radiographs and magnetic resonance images (MRIs) were obtained, and knee symptoms were queried.

After excluding participants with baseline osteoarthritis, the researchers defined 2 sets of patients:

  • those developing radiographic osteoarthritis (osteoarthritis showing up on films but not causing symptoms), and
  • those developing symptomatic osteoarthritis (knee pain and radiographic osteoarthritis).
  • In all the researchers studied 337 patients with incident symptomatic osteoarthritis and 283 patients with incident radiographic osteoarthritis. The mean age at baseline was 62 years (55% women). Neither total cholesterol, LDL, nor HDL showed a significant association with radiographic or symptomatic osteoarthritis. Additionally, we found no association of these lipid measures with cartilage loss, worsening synovitis, or worsening knee pain.

1 Schwager JL, Nevitt MC, Torner J, Lewis CE, Matthan NR, Wang N, Sun X, Lichtenstein AH, Felson D, Multicenter Osteoarthritis Study Group. Association of Serum Low‐Density Lipoprotein, High‐Density Lipoprotein, and Total Cholesterol With Development of Knee Osteoarthritis. Arthritis Care & Research. 2022 Feb;74(2):274-80.

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