Relationship between the gut microbiome and osteoarthritis pain: Review of the literature

Eleuterio A. Sánchez Romero, Erika Meléndez Oliva, José Luis Alonso Pérez, Sebastián Martín Pérez, Silvia Turroni, Lorenzo Marchese, Jorge Hugo Villafañe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of chronic pain in Europe (34%), representing a great economic and social cost to society. There are studies that suggest an intestine–brain–articulation axis and hint at the existence of low-grade intestinal inflammation in OA, which would be related to an alteration of the microbiota and to the impairment of the epithelial barrier, with leakage of the microbial components. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to review the association between gut microbiome and pain in the OA population through a review of the literature. Methods: A literature search was conducted to identify all available studies on the association between the gut microbiome and pain in the OA population, with no publication date limit until September 2020 and no language limit, in the MEDLINE, CINAHL, Web of Science and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials databases. Results: Only three of 2084 studies detected and analyzed by performing the proposed searches in the detailed databases, were finally selected for this review, of which one was with and two were without intervention. These studies only weakly support a relationship between the gut microbiome and OA, specifically a correlation between certain taxa or microbial products and the inflammatory landscape and severity of OA symptoms, including knee pain. Conclusions: Despite encouraging results, this review highlights the paucity of high-quality studies addressing the potential role of the gut microbiome in OA-re-lated pain, along with the disparity of the techniques used so far, making it impossible to draw firm conclusions on the topic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number716
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Dysbiosis
  • Gastrointestinal microbiome
  • Osteoarthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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