Obesity versus osteoarthritis: beyond the mechanical overload

Obesity is currently considered a major public health problem in the world, already reaching epidemic characteristics, according to the World Health Organization. Excess weight is the major risk factor associated with various diseases, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, dyslipidemia and osteometabolic diseases, including osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent rheumatic disease and the leading cause of physical disability and reduced quality of life of the population over 65 years. It mainly involves the joints that bear weight - knees and hips. However, along with the cases of obesity, its prevalence is increasing, and even in other joints, such as hands. Thus, it is assumed that the influence of obesity on the development of OA is beyond mechanical overload. The purpose of this review was to correlate the possible mechanisms underlying the genesis and development of these two diseases. Increased fat mass is directly proportional to excessive consumption of saturated fatty acids, responsible for systemic low-grade inflammation condition and insulin and leptin resistance. At high levels, leptin assumes inflammatory characteristics and acts in the articular cartilage, triggering the inflammatory process and changing homeostasis this tissue with consequent degeneration. We conclude that obesity is a risk factor for osteoarthritis and that physical activity and changes in diet composition can reverse the inflammatory and leptin resistance, reducing progression or preventing the onset of osteoarthritis.