The study used bovine cartilage samples exposed to inflammatory molecules to follow the effects of arthritis and then treated the tissue with lithium chloride.
“Osteoarthritis has a devastating impact on the lives of many people in the UK and it is vital that we look for novel ways to prevent it,” said co-author Martin Knight, a professor from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).
This commonly-used drug could be used to prevent the degradation and loss of mechanical integrity of cartilages in patients with arthritis.
The researchers also found that long-term dietary use of lithium did not cause arthritis.
“While we’re still at an early stage in researching lithium’s effects on cartilage and its suitability as a treatment, the possibility that an already widely available pharmaceutical could slow its progress is a significant step forward,” Knight said.