Objective Diet restriction and exercise form key treatments for osteoarthritis (OA) related symptoms in overweight and obese individuals. Although both interventions are known to influence systemic low-grade inflammation, which is related to pain levels and functional limitations, little is known about the potential changes in systemic inflammation as a working mechanism of diet restriction and exercise in knee OA.

Design Data from the Arthritis, Diet, and Activity Promotion Trial (ADAPT) were used. Through causal mediation analyses, the proportion of the effect of a 18 months diet and exercise intervention explained by the 18 months change in interleukin (IL)-6, TNF-α, soluble IL-6 receptor, soluble IL-1 receptor, CRP, and BMI were assessed, using self-reported pain and function as outcomes.

Results The change in inflammatory factors accounted for 15% of the total effect on pain and was totally independent of the change in BMI. The change in inflammatory factors accounted for 29% of the effect on function, with the change in BMI adding only 4% to the total mediated effect.

Conclusions The change in inflammatory factors after the diet and exercise intervention was a ‘medium’ size mediator of the effect on pain and a ‘strong’ mediator for the effect on function in overweight and obese individuals with knee OA. The change in BMI added minimally to the mediated effect on function. These results highlight the relevance of changes in systemic inflammation as drivers for clinically relevant effects after diet and exercise in overweight and obese individuals with knee OA.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Inflammation, Diet and exercise, Mediation analyses, Working mechanism
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.joca.2019.04.009, hdl.handle.net/1765/118950
Journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage
Runhaar, J, Beavers, D. P., Miller, G.D., Nicklas, B.J, Loeser, R.F., Bierma-Zeinstra, S.M, & Messier, S.P. (2019). Inflammatory cytokines mediate the effects of diet and exercise on pain and function in knee osteoarthritis independent of BMI. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 27(8), 1118–1123. doi:10.1016/j.joca.2019.04.009