Advanced glycation end-product (AGE) accumulation is implicated in osteoarthritis (OA) pathogenesis in aging and diabetic populations. Here, we develop a representative nonenzymatic glycation-induced OA cartilage explant culture model and investigate the effectiveness of resveratrol, curcumin, and eugenol in inhibiting AGEs and the structural and biological hallmarks of cartilage degeneration.

Bovine cartilage explants were treated with AGE–bovine serum albumin, threose, and ribose to determine the optimal conditions that induce physiological levels of AGEs while maintaining chondrocyte viability. AGE crosslinks, tissue stiffness, cell viability, metabolism and senescence, nitrite release and loss of glycosaminoglycans were assessed. Explants were cotreated with resveratrol, curcumin, or eugenol to evaluate their anti-AGE properties. Blind docking analysis was conducted to estimate binding energies of drugs with collagen II.

We establish a cartilage explant model of OA that recapitulates several aspects of aged human cartilage. We find that resveratrol and curcumin are effective anti-AGE therapeutics with the potential to decelerate age-related and diabetes-induced OA. This in vitro nonenzymatic glycation-induced model provides a tool for screening OA drugs, to simultaneously evaluate AGE-induced biological and mechanical changes.


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