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Effect of mud-bath therapy on the innate/inflammatory responses in elderly patients with osteoarthritis: a discussion of recent results and a pilot study on the role of the innate function of monocytes

Abstract

Recent findings from our laboratory highlight the role of the modulation of the innate immune function and systemic inflammatory response in the effectiveness of balneotherapy in rheumatic diseases, specifically in elderly patients with osteoarthritis. Immune-neuroendocrine and stress mediators are involved in these effects. The ‘bioregulatory effect of balneotherapy’ has also been recently proposed as a mechanism of effectiveness that consists of a reduction in systemic pro-inflammatory mediators together with the achievement of an optimal innate response through stimulation (or at least lack of impairment) of the innate defences against pathogens (i.e. phagocytosis, microbicide activity) mediated by neutrophils, also generating immunophysiological adaptations through an optimal balance between the pro- and the anti-inflammatory responses in which regulatory T cells seem to have a crucial role. In the present paper, we aim to analyse the main conclusions related to how balneotherapy with the use of peloids (pelotherapy) affects the innate and inflammatory responses, constituting an immunophysiological mechanism underlying the proven clinical benefits of this intervention. We also introduce novel results regarding the innate response (phagocytic process) of monocytes in this therapy, an inflammatory cell that has not yet been studied in this context. Increased chemotaxis together with a decline in oxidative burst, without changes in phagocytosis, could be the main response induced by this modality of balneological intervention.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the Facility of Bioscience Applied Techniques (STAB, University of Extremadura, Spain) and the spa centre ‘El Raposo’ for technical and human support.

Funding

This work was partially supported by the Gobierno de Extremadura-Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional (EE-14-0082-4, GR15041, GR18009, IB18011). Isabel Gálvez is recipient of a ‘Formación del Profesorado Universitario (FPU)’ pre-doctoral contract (FPU15/02395) from the Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades, Spain.

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Correspondence to Eduardo Ortega.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Funding sources had no role in the study design, collection, analysis, and interpretation of the data or the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

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Gálvez, I., Torres-Piles, S. & Ortega, E. Effect of mud-bath therapy on the innate/inflammatory responses in elderly patients with osteoarthritis: a discussion of recent results and a pilot study on the role of the innate function of monocytes. Int J Biometeorol 64, 927–935 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-019-01748-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-019-01748-4

Keywords

  • Balneotherapy
  • Pelotherapy
  • Chemotaxis
  • Phagocytosis
  • Oxidative burst
  • Inflammation