Long-term treatment with glucosamine sulphate has been shown to slow down the progression of knee osteoarthritis, according to a study published in the 14 October issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Glucosamine is a natural substance found in the joints of bones and plays an important role in the maintenance of joint cartilage. In the study, around 200 patients with knee osteoarthritis randomly received either 1500mg of oral glucosamine sulphate daily or a placebo over a period of three years.
To determine the progression of knee osteoarthritis, the researchers from Charles University and the Institute of Rheumatology in Prague, Czech Republic and the Rotta Research Laboratorium in Monza, Italy, measured changes in radiographic minimum joint space width in the medial compartment of the tibiofemoral joint, and assessed symptoms using the algo-functional indexes of Lequesne and WOMAC (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities).
The researchers reported that the osteoarthritis in study participants was of mild to moderate severity at enrolment, with average joint space widths of slightly less than 4 mm and a Lequesne index score of less than nine points.
With placebo use, there was progressive joint space narrowing after three years, of an average -0.19 mm. Conversely, there was no average change with glucosamine sulphate use. Furthermore, fewer patients treated with glucosamine sulphate experienced predefined severe narrowings.
Disease symptoms improved modestly with placebo use but as much as 20- 25 per cent with glucosamine sulphate use, they found, with significant final differences on the Lequesne index and the WOMAC total index and pain, function, and stiffness subscales.
The team also reported good safety in both groups.