Objectives: Carotenoids are plant pigments found in many vegetables, functioning as antioxidants scavenging singlet molecular oxygen and peroxyl radicals. No longitudinal study exists on the relationship between carotenoids and knee osteoarthritis (KOA) development. We aimed to determine the incidence of KOA development for 10 years in community-dwelling people in Japan and assess its association with serum carotenoids. Methods: Data of 440 participants (174 men, 266 women) with health-screening records for at least 10 years were analysed. We defined KOA development as advancing from K/L grade 0/1 at the initial check-up to grade ≥2 in a unilateral knee during a 10-year follow-up period. Serum carotenoid levels were measured using high-performance liquid chromatography. We used the Cox hazard model for multivariate analysis and investigated each carotenoid’s impact on KOA development. Results: KOA developed in 33.4% of patients; the annual KOA development rate was significantly higher among women than among men (p <.01; 3.4% vs. 1.6%). Among the carotenoids measured, only retinol was associated with KOA development in women using multivariable analysis. KOA development was not associated with any carotenoids in men. Conclusion: The annual rate of KOA development was higher in women, and retinol was associated with KOA development in women.
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