Cordycepin may provide new therapies for osteoarthritis

A new study suggests that a substance in a fungus that infects caterpillars can provide new therapeutic hopes for patients with osteoarthritis.

In 1951, Cunningham of Germany purified in Cordyceps militaris to obtain a crystal named as Cordycepin. Cordycepin is an active compound isolated from Cordyceps militaris. At the University of Nottingham in 2015, scientists found that cordycepin is as effective as other conventional analgesics in relieving bone and joint pain in mice. However, the mechanism by which cordycepin inhibits pain is unknown.

Recently, the research team showed in a study that cordycepin can effectively treat osteoarthritis by reducing inflammation by a process called polyadenylation. The results of this study were published in the scientific report.

The natural compound cordycepin is extracted from Cordyceps sinensis, which is a complex of Cordyceps sinensis and bat moth larvae. This study demonstrated that oral administration of cordycepin in an animal model of osteoarthritis relieves pain and prevents disease progression. Interestingly, cordycepin achieves this through a different mechanism than any other known anti-inflammatory analgesic, by affecting the final step of generating messenger RNA, Polyadenylation. This means that drugs extracted from cordycepin can help other patients with failed treatments. Cordycepin has the potential to be the founder of the new type of painkiller, a polyadenylation inhibitor, although there is still a long way to go before the cordycepin-derived drug reaches the patient.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Some people call it a degenerative joint disease or "wearing" arthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by damage or destruction of articular cartilage between bones. It is most common in the hands, hips, and knees. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage becomes flaky and rough, and the small pieces break to form a loose body in the fluid, lubricating the joint called synovial fluid. This can cause irritation and inflammation of the synovial membrane. These changes usually develop slowly and become worse over time. Osteoarthritis can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. In some cases, it can also lead to reduced function and disability.

In this new study, the researchers discovered that in osteoarthritis, the expression of the polyadenylation factor CPSF4 associated with synovial inflammation is increased. CPSF4 and another polyadenylation factor are required for activation of key inflammatory cell macrophages. Administration of cordycepin inhibits the activity of polyadenylation factors in macrophages and inhibits the inflammatory response. Cordycepin treatment reduces pain behavior and structural damage in osteoarthritic rats and mice and supports the role of polyadenylation in the progression of osteoarthritis and inflammatory gene expression.

Usually, patients with osteoarthritis are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) or opioids to relieve pain, but these drugs have limited efficacy and side effects. Therefore, joint replacement surgery is a common result.

The new study provided a more effective and less toxic treatment for patients with osteoarthritis, reducing patient side effects.

For people with arthritis, persistent pain can change the life. Although at an early stage, this study has great potential to help patients with musculoskeletal disorders and demonstrates the value and impact of newly discovered research in understanding and treating disease.

Cite this article

CUSABIO team. Cordycepin may provide new therapies for osteoarthritis.


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