Pycnogenol joint health benefits illuminated in unique trial

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / stockdevil
© Getty Images / stockdevil
The potential joint health benefits of Pycnogenol, an extract from French Maritime Pine bark, are linked to its ability to absorb directly into the synovial fluid, says a new study with patients with osteoarthritis.

New data published in Nutrients​ provide mechanistic support for previous clinical trials that reported joint health benefits from Pycnogenol.

“In the present study, the in vivo distribution of constituents and metabolites of the maritime pine extract Pycnogenol between human serum, blood cells, and synovial fluid was investigated for the first time,”​ wrote scientists from the Universitat Wurzburg in Germany.

“A newly developed and validated highly sensitive LC-ESI/MS/MS method allowed for the detection and quantification of various polyphenolic compounds in synovial fluid and thereby facilitated the proof that polyphenols are actually distributed into joints.”

Joint health market

Dietary supplements for joint health have traditionally been dominated by glucosamine and chondroitin, but formulators are increasingly looking for innovation in the space, Dr Frank Schonlau, scientific director for Horphag Research told NutraIngredients-USA.

A 2008 study published in Phytotherpy Research​ indicated that daily supplementation with Pycnogenol reduced overall knee osteoarthritis symptoms by 21%.

“Many of our clients have asked the question how does Pycnogenol impact joint health. We now have the answer,”​ said Dr Schonlau.

Study details

“This is the first evidence that polyphenols distribute into the synovial fluid of patients with osteoarthritis. That supports rationalizing the results of previous clinical efficacy studies that show reduced inflammation and improved comfort by supplementing with Pycnogenol,”​ said natural health physician Dr Fred Pescatore.

The Wurzburg-based scientists recruited 33 individuals diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis scheduled for knee replacement surgery (arthroplasty). The volunteers were supplemented with 200 mg per day of Pycnogenol or no supplements (control group) for three weeks leading up to their scheduled surgeries, and synovial fluid samples were collected during surgery to detect and measure the presence of polyphenols.

Results showed that the polyphenols found in Pycnogenol including taxifolin, ferulic acid and catechin were distributed throughout the synovial fluid. On the other hand, taxifolin and ferulic acid were not detected in control group serum samples.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study investigating polyphenol concentrations in human synovial fluid samples of patients with osteoarthritis. Similar to the results of serum analysis, mean polyphenol concentrations were similar in the [Pycnogenol] and [control] groups, but taxifolin was only detectable in the [Pycnogenol] group. Thus, it might be a marker of Pycnogenol consumption,” ​wrote the researchers.

Source: Nutrients
2017, 9​(5), 443; doi:10.3390/nu9050443
“Distribution of Constituents and Metabolites of Maritime Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol) into Serum, Blood Cells, and Synovial Fluid of Patients with Severe Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial”
Authors: M. Mulek et al.

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