Calcium-Containing Crystals and Osteoarthritis: an Unhealthy Alliance

  • Richard Conway
  • Geraldine M. McCarthy
Crystal Arthritis (L Stamp, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Crystal Arthritis


Purpose of Review

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of joint disease globally and is associated with significant morbidity and disability. Increasing evidence points to an important inflammatory component in the development and progression of OA. The precise pathways involved in OA inflammatory processes remain to be clarified. Basic calcium phosphate (BCP) and calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate (CPP) crystals can induce inflammation and arthritis and recent studies point to a potential pathogenic role in OA. In the light of this evidence, we explore the relationship and potential mechanistic pathways linking calcium-containing crystals and OA.

Recent Findings

CPP crystals induce inflammation through the NLRP3 inflammasome while BCP crystals mediate both NLRP3 dependent and independent effects. BCP crystals have been demonstrated to induce key mitogenic and inflammatory pathways and contribute to cartilage degradation.


Calcium-containing crystals induce key inflammatory pathways and may represent an attractive novel target in OA, a condition devoid of effective treatments.


BCP CPPD Osteoarthritis Crystal Inflammation 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

Financial Disclosures

No funding was received for this manuscript. The authors have no conflicts of interest in relation to the current work.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of RheumatologySt. James’s HospitalDublin 8Ireland
  2. 2.Department of RheumatologyMater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin Academic Medical CentreDublin 7Ireland

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