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Life Extension Magazine July 2012
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Halt the Auto-Immune Attack of Arthritis

By Michael Downey

UC-II® Modulates Osteoarthritis

UC-II® Modulates Osteoarthritis

Turning their attention to osteoarthritis, scientists tested UC-II®, a proprietary form of undenatured type II chicken collagen, on horses and larger dogs. These animals are, like humans, very susceptible to osteoarthritis.

Only a specific undenatured form of collagen, which maintains its unique molecular structure, can retrain the immune system not to overreact to exposed collagen fibers. To understand this crucial difference, see the box on the next page.

Dogs with osteoarthritis given UC-II® were found to exhibit significant reductions in overall pain, in pain after limb manipulation, and in lameness after physical exertion—within 90 days.6 There were no adverse side effects. When UC-II® was then withdrawn for the next 30 days, the pain and exercise-associated lameness returned.6

These findings were confirmed when a subsequent study on arthritic dogs found that UC-II® produced the same significant decrease in arthritic pain—again, within 90 days.7

A longer study found that while arthritic dogs given UC-II® were measured to experience significant improvements in pain and mobility after 30 and 60 days, they showed the greatest benefit after 120 days of supplementation. By that point, the UC-II® group was measured to have a 62% reduction in overall pain, a 78% reduction in exercise-associated lameness—and a surprising 91% reduction in pain upon limb manipulation!13

A later placebo-controlled study confirmed these observations. After 120 days, dogs treated with UC-II® were assessed to have a 77% reduction in overall pain, an 84% reduction in exercise-associated pain, and an 83% reduction in pain upon limb manipulation. No adverse effects were found—even after a thorough check of liver, kidney, and heart function.26

A longer, more precision-based study was undertaken in 2011, using a high-tech ground force plate employing a special piezoelectric sensor. This apparatus allowed researchers to measure with a high degree of accuracy, the exact force and weight that dogs placed on each arthritic limb. Dogs given the undenatured UC-II® formulation were able to place more weight on sore limbs and use them more naturally, relative to those given either placebo or the combination of chondroitin-plus-glucosamine. Monthly tests of kidney and liver function, pulse rate, temperature, and weight found no adverse effects.The data from the groundforce plate study showed that dogs in the UC-II® only group showed continued improvement after 150 days, at which time supplementation was discontinued.154

In a large, placebo-controlled study, researchers administered oral doses of UC-II® to horses. They measured reductions of 88% in overall pain, and 78% in pain during limb manipulation among horses given UC-II®. These benefits were seen after 150 days of supplementation.8

Studies demonstrated that UC-II® alone produced much greater results in relieving arthritis in dogs and horses than the combination of chondroitin and glucosamine sulfate alone.8,13 However, the same researchers found that combining UC-II®, with chondroitin and glucosamine sulfate produced the greatest benefits, substantially alleviating pain and improving function.15 This suggests the possibility that humans may be found to benefit from the dual action of these two treatments together. While impressive evidence indicates that undenatured type II collagen inhibits processes responsible for the progression of arthritis, the glucosamine-and-chondroitin combination has previously been shown to repair damaged joints.10,14 Scientists then shifted their focus to the effect of UC-II® on osteoarthritis in humans.

Extinguishing Arthritis at Its Source
Extinguishing Arthritis at Its Source

Today, 52 million Americans live with some form of arthritis,36 with its debilitating joint pain and impairment. The standard medical treatment for arthritis has been anti-inflammatory and pain drugs, including NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®), as well as corticosteroids such as prednisone. Over 46% of those diagnosed with osteoarthritis are prescribed NSAID therapy.37

At best, these medications partially blunt the symptoms. At worst, they substantially increase the risk of life-threatening disorders, including obesity, kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.21-24 And they compromise the immune system.18 But for a long time, medical science offered no treatment that would have a fundamental impact on the origin of the disease itself.4

However, both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are now understood to be immune disorders—massive immune system attacks triggered by the minor traumas to joint cartilage that result in exposed collagen fibers.

Scientists sought ways to activate induced specific oral tolerance to exposed collagen. Achieving induced specific oral tolerance requires involvement of the immunological pathway, the “immune learning center” within our digestive tract. Here, the immune complement system is trained to differentiate correctly between “self” and “foreign” cells.

Through induced specific oral tolerance, it is possible to reprogram the immune system to suppress reactivity to a specific antigen—to teach it to tolerate the harmless substance. The immune system’s ability to acquire tolerance by oral administration of the antigen is likely rooted in mankind’s early evolution. It may have evolved to prevent hypersensitive reactions to food proteins, which is in keeping with the fact that this immunological pathway is situated within the digestive tract.

Inducing specific oral tolerance to exposed collagen requires finding, and then introducing to the body through the immune system’s desensitization area within the digestive tract, a substance with precisely the same molecular shape as the collagen fiber molecules currently being identified as “foreign.”

Unlike regularly processed type II collagen, the undenatured form maintains its molecular shape.

Scientific studies have confirmed that undenatured type II collagen effectively reprograms the immune system to recognize the proteins normally found in joint cartilage to be harmless “self” cells.30-32 This significantly relieves symptoms of both rheumatoid arthritis9-11and osteoarthritis.4-9,13,14

Targeting Osteoarthritis in Humans

Targeting Osteoarthritis in Humans

Evidence had already established the effectiveness of undenatured type II collagen in inhibiting the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in humans. However, it would be necessary to separately establish this unique ability of UC-II® in human cases of osteoarthritis. To achieve this, researchers employed a stringent study protocol: a randomized, double-blind, clinical study on humans.

In a study of this type, 52 adults suffering from osteoarthritis with an average age of 59 were randomly assigned to receive daily either two 20 mg capsules of UC-II®, or a combination of four 375 mg capsules of glucosamine plus four 300 mg chondroitin sulfate. All patients were assessed at 30-day intervals.4

The researchers found that in just 90 days, UC-II® provided “significant enhancement in daily activities, suggesting an improvement in their quality of life.”4

In the same trial, the researchers employed the standardized WOMAC (Western Ontario McMaster Osteoarthritis Index) scale to accurately assess symptoms. They concluded that 40 mg a day of UC-II® reduced osteoarthritis symptoms assessed by the WOMAC scale by 33%in only 90 days. By comparison, the combination of 1,500 mg a day of glucosamine and 1,200 mg a day of chondroitin sulfate reduced WOMAC scores in the same period by only 14%.4

The team of scientists then used the Visual Analog Scale (VAS)—which is used to assess pain—to corroborate these results. Using this measure, they found pain scores decreased by 40% for the UC-II® group, while pain scores for the glucosamine/chondroitin group decreased just 15%.4

Finally, using the Lequesne’s Functional Index—a measure specifically of pain during daily activities, such as walking—the study team found that UC-II® reduced the score for this type of pain by 20%, while the combination of glucosamine plus chondroitin lowered the score by only 6%.4

All results were observed in just 90 days.

This compelling human research crowns a series of studies indicating that undenatured type II cartilage induces oral tolerance to exposed collagen, inhibiting the immune response that inflames joints and further degrades joint cartilage.

Summary

Recent research has revealed that cartilage erosion caused by wear-and-tear is not the immediate cause of osteoarthritis—it is only the initial trigger.

Scientists now know that osteoarthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, is an abnormal immune-system overreaction to exposed collagen fibers in joint cartilage.

Until this discovery, the standard treatment has been risky NSAIDs and immune suppressants, which have no effect on the underlying cause of this immune reaction.

Oral introduction of type II chicken collagen desensitizes the immune system to collagen fibers, “teaching” inflammatory killer T-cells to ignore exposed collagen in the joints.

This unique intervention works by activating induced oral tolerance, the natural pathway that effectively “short-circuits” the immune response behind arthritis—halting disease activity.

Controlled clinical studies indicate that undenatured type II collagen uniquely inhibits inflammatory joint pain, joint swelling, and impaired function in both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.

References

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