Osteoarthritis is a destructive joint disease and the most prevalent form of arthritis worldwide. Partly due to a global increase in people with high cholesterol as a result of an unhealthy diet, the number of osteoarthritis patients keeps increasing. It remains unclear how cholesterol can worsen osteoarthritis, but we think that this is dependent on a reaction with molecules named oxygen radicals, which are produced in inflamed tissue. This thesis shows that in mice of which the immune cells do not produce oxygen radicals due to a genetic modification, the osteoarthritis severity is decreased. Moreover, feeding of a cholesterol-increasing diet causes activation of immune cells within a number of weeks. This effect is dampened by anti-inflammatory drugs, but does not directly affect osteoarthritis severity. These results provide potential targets for osteoarthritis therapy, although it should be further investigated what circumstances cause cholesterol to worsen the disease.
Nik Kruisbergen (1992) obtained his Master’s degree in Medical Biology at the Radboud University in 2017. He then started with his PhD research as part of Peter van Lent’s research group at the department of Experimental Rheumatology. Currently, he is working as Project Scientist at Molgen.