Objective: The efficacy of glucosamine sulfate (GS) in the symptomatic treatment of patients with osteoarthritis (OA) is suggested to be mediated by still unknown effects on the altered OA cartilage.
Design: Using human OA chondrocytes in culture, the effects of GS on protein synthesis, caseinase, collagenase, phospholipase A2 (PLA2) and protein kinase C (PKC) activities as well as production of nitric oxide and cyclic AMP were studied in both cells and culture medium.
Results: GS significantly reduced PLA2 activity, and more modestly collagenase activity, in the OA chondrocytes in a dose-dependent manner. By contrast, PLA2 and collagenase activity of the culture medium was not modified. No effects on caseinase activity was seen. GS significantly and dose-dependently increased protein synthesis. GS did not modify nitric oxide and cAMP production but significantly increased PKC production.
Conclusion: GS modified cultured OA chondrocyte metabolism by acting on PKC, cellular PLA2, protein synthesis and possibly collagenase activation. Extrapolation of the effect to the in-vivo situation remains hypothetical but they might represent some possible mechanisms of action of the drug in human.