BioPep’s recent publication sheds light on the role of mitochondria in cartilage degenerative disorders

BioPep team together with European Wellness’s scientists have recently published a paper in the prestigious International Journal of Biomedical Research & Practice. The paper reviewed role of mitochondrial dysfunction in cartilage diseases and shed light on using mitochondria as tools of therapy in the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Mitochondria are major energy-producing organelles that have central roles in each of our cells and are vital to proper cell functioning. Mitochondria are the main location in cells for energy production through the creation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and are thus known as the “power plant” of the cell.

In addition to their primary function of energy production, mitochondria play several additional crucial roles. Mitochondria operate as a central hub of both catabolic reactions (breaking down of molecules) and anabolic reactions (creating new molecules) which are critical to cellular function. 

Mitochondrial function and properties vary according to cell type. The dysregulation of mitochondria is a critical contributing factor to the initiation and development of autoimmune disorders, and occurs in cartilage diseases such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. At the same time, mitochondrial dysfunction in cartilage diseases is especially interesting, because it may present a promising therapeutic target. 

Each mitochondrion has its own genome known as mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). The mitochondrial genome comprises of 37 genes, of which 13 encode proteins and the others encode RNA molecules involved in the translation of these proteins. The mitochondrial genome is susceptible to oxidative damage, and such injury to mtDNA has been linked to cell apoptosis (death), tissue degeneration (breakdown) and other age-related disorders.

By understanding the mechanism of mitochondrial dysfunction, we can aim to impact the role of mitochondria to treat cartilage diseases. This promising study outlines the ways in which mitochondria represent important targets for disease treatment strategies, particularly age-related degenerative diseases that are so common in our aging population.

Mitochondria as the tool of the therapy

As mitochondria have been proposed as therapeutic targets, their structure and function can be restored by therapies such as small molecule drugs, biologically-active mitochondrial proteins and peptides, and stem cell therapy. 

An emerging approach is to utilise the selective delivery of bioactive molecules into mitochondria using a carrier of short peptide sequences with specific chemical properties. Mitochondria-targeting agents based on peptides possess useful advantages over other mitochondria-acting agents. Peptides (short proteins) can be designed and engineered to penetrate the mitochondrial membrane. In fact, mitochondrial-acting peptides are one of the promising directions in degenerative disease therapeutics.

The mtDNA gene interactions are vital for the translation of proteins and respiration of mitochondria. These genes also represent a vital component of the innate immune response and can be targeted for therapeutic purposes.

Artificial mitochondria transfer from one cell to another is another therapeutic avenue that is being explored. The use of artificial mitochondrial transport could potentially repair existing and damaged mitochondria by introducing healthy copies to recipient cells which are diseased, stressed or damaged. Artificial mitochondrial transport has shown promising results in healing damaged or stressed cells in vitro and in vivo.

Understanding the link between mitochondrial dysfunction in cartilage diseases

Cartilage diseases are one of the most common clinical conditions that cause disability and affect patients’ quality of life. Several cartilage diseases affect humans due to the unavoidable constant motion of the human body in which articular cartilage in the joints is easily damaged.

The link between mitochondrial dysfunction and inflammation/tissue damage in skeletal joint pathologies is emerging in cartilage diseases such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Many recent studies have focused on the metabolic processes in inflammatory diseases and have shown that mitochondrial dysfunction is well documented in cartilage diseases, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It has also been observed in degenerative diseases and other conditions such as cancer, diabetes and obesity.

Mitochondrial dysfunction plays a role in rheumatoid arthritis, as dysregulation of immune signalling pathways causes local inflammation in the synovial joint. Mitochondria facilitate immune cell activation and the production of pro- and antiinflammatory mediators, which has mostly been studied in immune cells.

Increasing evidence suggests that mitochondria dysfunction occurs early and causally in disease processes as the accumulation of mitochondrial damage resulting from dysfunctional pathways leads to the development of cartilage damage.

By understanding the mechanism of mitochondrial dysfunction, we can aim to upregulate the role of mitochondria to treat cartilage diseases, and new therapeutic paradigms can be developed to restore cartilage integrity.

BioPep is an R&D biotech company, a subsidiary of European Wellness Biomedical Group (EW) that is focused on the scientific study of existing products manufactured by European Wellness Biomedical Group, as well as developing innovative new products in collaboration with a Colorado-based US FDA registered facility. At BioPep, we believe that better health is achievable through safe, scientifically tested products. Our organopeptides, which are Nano Organo Peptides or Mito Organelles (NOPs and MOs), are manufactured by European Wellness Biomedical Group at the EW facility in Europe committed to ensuring that all organopeptide products are pathogen-free and safe. These organopeptides are being used rejuvenate and improve health.

We partner with top-tier research institutions, universities and manufacturing facilities to provide data on the effectiveness of organ-specific peptides’ ability to rejuvenate and heal. With a better understanding of mitochondrial properties, we can target these organelles to deliver better patient outcomes in degenerative cartilage and other diseases.

Yuriy Nalapko, Jonathan R. T. Lakey, Orn Adalsteinsson, Dmytro Klokol, Thomas Skutella, Shing Yi Pan, Augusta Wellington, Michelle B. F. Wong, Mike K. S. Chan and Desiree Cox,The Role of Mitochondria in Cartilage Degenerative Disorders, International Journal of Biomedical Research and Practice, 2022, 2(1): 1-6

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