Glucosamine may slow arthritis sufferers' bone turnover

By Philippa Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Knee

Arthritis sufferers may be able to help slow the bone turnover that
appears with the disease by supplementing their diet with
glucosamine, if the results of an animal study can be applied to

Suzanne Wang and colleagues at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada, examined the effects of glucosamine - a building block of proteins called glycosaminoglycans which the body uses to build cartilage - in rabbits with an experimental form of arthritis. They found that the animals given glucosamine had a bone turnover rate around the knee joint that was nearly comparable to that in the animals without arthritis, while untreated animals showed a higher rate of bone turnover. During the study, published in Arthritis and Rheumatism​, eight out of the 16 rabbits with osteoarthritis (OA) and six out of the 10 control rabbits were treated daily with 100 mg of glucosamine, while the others were given a placebo. Eight weeks after ACLT (Anterior cruciate ligament transection) was performed on 16 rabbits to induce osteoarthritis, most of the operated joints had various degrees of cartilage damage and fibrillation. However, "the high bone turnover was significantly reduced in glucosamine-treated animals that underwent ACLT,"​ according to the researchers. "In fact, there were no significant differences between the ACLT/glucosamine group and the control/glucosamine group in most of the bone parameters studied,"​ they added. The scientists concluded that: "This study shows that subchondral bone turnover, structure and mineralization are significantly altered in the early stages of experimental OA, and that these changes are attenuated by glucosamine treatment."​ A recent research of Mintel's Global New Products Database found that glucosamine is contained in almost half of all listed joint health supplements launched since 2000. As a supplement, glucosamine is usually sold in combination with chondroitin. The Nutrition Business Journal estimated that US sales for these combined supplements reached $810 million (€132 million) in 2005. All glucosamine until recently was made from the raw material chitin, 90 per cent of which comes from China. However, in 2004 Cargill obtained an expert opinion confirming that Regenasure, its vegetarian source of glucosamine, was substantially equivalent to shellfish glucosamine hydrochloride when used in food supplements and foods for particular nutritional purposes. Chondroitin sulphate is extracted from animal cartilage such as shark cartilage. Approximately seven million people in the UK alone are reported to have long-term health problems associated with arthritis. Around 206 million working days were lost in the UK in 1999-2000, equal to £18 billion (€26 billion) of lost productivity, because of the disease. Source: Arthritis & Rheumatism"The effects of glucosamine hydrochloride on subchondral bone changes in an animal model of osteoarthritis" ​May 2007, Volume 56, Issue 5, Pages 1537-1548 Authors: S. Wang, S. Laverty, M. Dumitriu, A. Plaas, M. Grynpas

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