J Knee Surg 2004; 17(4): 185-193
DOI: 10.1055/s-0030-1248220
Original Article

© 2004 Thieme Medical Publishers

Recent Advances in Glucosamine and Chondroitin Supplementation

Stephen Owens1 , Phillip Wagner2 , C. Thomas Vangsness1  Jr 
  • 1The Department of Orthopedic Surgery, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Calif
  • 2Medical student, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Calif
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
27 January 2010 (online)


Glucosamine and chondroitin are alternative solutions to previous pharmaceutical options for the treatment of osteoarthritis. This article describes the mechanisms of action, pharmacokinetics, recent findings, and upcoming studies of these two natural remedies.

The majority of studies on the mechanisms behind glucosamine and chondroitin have been performed in vitro or on animal models; however, the results have shown favorable effects on the balance between cartilage matrix synthesis and degradation. The pharmacokinetics of the three main forms of glucosamine were compared, and glucosamine hydrochloride displayed the greatest compound purity, despite the compounds having equal oral absorption rates of 90%. Chondroitin sulfate has been the principal clinical formulation with a slightly lower oral absorption of 70%. Clinical trials were evaluated based on two categories—radiographic changes and symptom improvement of pain and function. Although adverse effects of these two remedies were minor, the quality and labeled quantity of these relatively unregulated products must be considered. More randomized controlled studies on humans in vivo need to evaluate the efficacy, long-term effects, and quality of these compounds.