08:34 15 February 2014
If your diet contains zinc-rich food, such as cocoa, seafood, and chicken, you can expect to suffer from the painful condition osteoarthritis – the most common type of arthritis which affects thousands of people in the UK.
A new Korean study has found that cartilage can be destroyed by molecular changes involved in processing zinc, a naturally occurring metallic element.
Jang-Soo Chun of the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology in Korea said: 'No evidence available to date clearly indicated that zinc plays a causal role in osteoarthritis.
'In our study, we revealed the entire series of molecular events in the osteoarthritis zinc pathway, from zinc influx into cells to cartilage destruction.'
The study says that the proteins called “matrix-degrading enzymes” destroy the tissue and are responsible for degrading the extracellular matrix which is the structural support system that surrounds cells and holds them together.
Jang-Soo Chun added: 'Our findings suggest that local depletion of zinc or pharmacological inhibition of ZIP8 function or MTF1 activity in cartilage tissue would be effective therapeutic approaches for the treatment of osteoarthritis.
‘We are hopeful that this research will lead to the discovery and rapid development of novel drugs to suppress the progression of this debilitating disease.'