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The prevalence of osteoarthritis (OA) increases not only because of longer life expectancy but also because of the modern lifestyle, in particular physical inactivity and diets low in fiber and rich in sugar and saturated fats, which promote chronic low-grade inflammation and obesity. Adverse alterations of the gut microbiota (GMB) composition, called microbial dysbiosis, may favor metabolic syndrome and inflammaging, two important components of OA onset and evolution. Considering the burden of OA and the need to define preventive and therapeutic interventions targeting the modifiable components of OA, an expert working group was convened by the European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases (ESCEO) to review the potential contribution of GMB to OA. Such a contribution is supported by observational or dietary intervention studies in animal models of OA and in humans. In addition, several well-recognized risk factors of OA interact with GMB. Lastly, GMB is a critical determinant of drug metabolism and bioavailability and may influence the response to OA medications. Further research targeting GMB or its metabolites is needed to move the field of OA from symptomatic management to individualized interventions targeting its pathogenesis.

Original publication




Journal article


Ageing research reviews

Publication Date





Division of Bone Diseases, Geneva University Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland. Electronic address: