Glucosamine-chondroitin combination shows anti-inflammatory potential: RCT data

By Stephen DANIELLS

- Last updated on GMT

The study is said to be the first randomized trial to evaluate the effects of glucosamine and chondroitin on inflammation in healthy adults
The study is said to be the first randomized trial to evaluate the effects of glucosamine and chondroitin on inflammation in healthy adults

Related tags: Chondroitin sulfate, Epidemiology

A combination of glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate may slash levels of C-reaction protein (CRP), a key biomarker of inflammation, says a new randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study.

Data showed the combination of FCHG49 glucosamine hydrochloride and TRH122 chondroitin sulfate (Cosamin DS, Nutramax Laboratories) reduced CRP levels by an impressive 23%, compared to placebo.

The glucosamine-chondroitin combination was also associated with significant reductions in the ‘cytokine activity’ pathway, compared to placebo, according to findings published in PLoS One​.

“Glucosamine and chondroitin supplementation may lower systemic inflammation and alter other pathways in healthy, overweight individuals,”​ wrote the researchers.

“This study adds evidence for potential mechanisms supporting epidemiologic findings that glucosamine and chondroitin are associated with reduced risk of lung and colorectal cancer.”

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and performed by scientists from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Harvard School of Public Health, and Vanderbilt University.

Healthy and not so healthy

The joint health market is dominated by glucosamine and chondroitin. Amongst the most important studies supporting the apparent benefits of the ingredients was the $14 million Glucosamine/chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT), sponsored by the National Institute of Health, which studied the effects of the supplements in 1,583 people with osteoarthritis

The results, published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine​ (2006, Vol. 354, pp. 795-808), indicated that the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate “significantly decreased” knee pain for people suffering from moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis.

The new study, led by Dr Sandi Navarro, PhD, is said to be the first randomized trial to evaluate the effects of glucosamine and chondroitin on inflammation in healthy adults.

According to the researchers, the reduction observed in CRP levels may help to explain the findings of the VITAL (VITamins and Lifestyle) study​, a large prospective epidemiological study also conducted at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, which found that participants who were users of glucosamine and chondroitin had a lower risk of certain health conditions.

“We designed our trial as a follow-up to VITAL, as we were intrigued by the findings associated with the glucosamine/chondroitin combined supplementation,”​ said Dr Navarro. “We are pleased to have identified a possible biologic mechanism to support those findings.”

Study details

The researchers recruited 18 healthy overweight men and women and randomly assigned them to receive a combination of glucosamine hydrochloride (1,500 mg/day) and chondroitin sulfate (1,200 mg/day) or placebo for 28 days.

Results showed that CRP levels were reduced by an average of 23% after glucosamine/chondroitin, compared to placebo. 

“Our results are consistent with observational studies reporting an association between glucosamine and chondroitin and circulating concentrations of CRP,”​ added Dr. Navarro. “A major strength of this study is that participants were healthy and free of underlying conditions that might have affected the results.” 

Analysis of gene set enrichment also found that cytokine activity and other inflammation-related pathways were significantly decreased after the glucosamine/chondroitin supplementation period.

“Thus, there is now growing evidence that glucosamine and chondroitin reduce systemic inflammation in humans,”​ wrote the researchers in PLoS One​.

“Future studies in larger samples and other populations are needed to determine the potential utility of glucosamine and chondroitin as a possible anti-inflammatory agent.”

The results were welcomed by Dr Brian Cornblatt, medical director of Nutramax Laboratories, which supplied the FCHG49 glucosamine hydrochloride and TRH122 chondroitin sulfate joint health supplement used in the study.

“To my knowledge, the Fred Hutch study is the first to directly demonstrate a statistically significant reduction in high-sensitivity CRP following daily consumption of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, in a controlled trial,”​ said Dr Cornblatt. “The results, which were evident after only 28 days, further support what we have been observing in our laboratory research.” 

Source: PLoS One
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0117534
“Randomized Trial of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Supplementation on Inflammation and Oxidative Stress Biomarkers and Plasma Proteomics Profiles in Healthy Humans”
Authors: S.L. Navarro, E. White, E.D. Kantor, et al​. 

Related topics: Research, Bone & joint health

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