Cellular pharmacodynamic effects of Pycnogenol® in patients with severe osteoarthritis: a randomized controlled pilot study

Steffen Jessberger, Petra Högger, Franca Genest, Donald Salter, Lothar Seefried

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The standardized maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol®) has
previously shown symptom alleviating effects in patients suffering from moderate forms of knee osteoarthritis (OA). The cellular mechanisms for this positive impact are so far unknown. The purpose of the present randomized pilot controlled study was to span the knowledge gap between the reported clinical effects of Pycnogenol® and its in vivo mechanism of action in OA patients.
Methods: Thirty three patients with severe OA scheduled for a knee arthroplasty either received 100 mg of Pycnogenol® twice daily or no treatment (control group) three weeks before surgery. Cartilage, synovial fluid and serum samples were collected during surgical intervention. Relative gene expression of cartilage homeostasis markers were analyzed in the patients' chondrocytes. Inflammatory and cartilage metabolism mediators were investigated in serum and synovial fluid samples.
Results: The oral intake of Pycnogenol® downregulated the gene expression of
various cartilage degradation markers in the patients' chondrocytes, the decrease of MMP3, MMP13 and the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL1B were statistically significant (p≤ 0.05). Additionally, protein concentrations of ADAMTS-5 in serum were reduced significantly (p≤ 0.05) after three weeks intake of the pine bark extract.
Conclusions: This is the first report about positive cellular effects of a dietary
supplement on key catabolic and inflammatory markers in patients with severe OA. The results provide a rational basis for understanding previously reported clinical effects of Pycnogenol® on symptom scores of patients suffering from OA.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2017


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