Chondroitin product selection for the glucosamine/chondroitin arthritis intervention trial

J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2006 Jan-Feb;46(1):14-24. doi: 10.1331/154434506775268616.


Objective: To select a high-quality chondroitin dosage form and/or an appropriate source of sodium chondroitin for the National Institutes of Health's Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT).

Design: Controlled experimental trials.

Setting: Laboratory.

Patients or participants: Not applicable.

Interventions: Commercially available chondroitin products were reviewed, and purified sodium chondroitin from two suppliers was evaluated through tests (infrared and near-infrared identification, moisture content, pH, optical rotation, color and clarity of aqueous solutions prepared from the powders, protein contamination, total residue following ignition and nitrogen content, determination of sodium chondroitin molecular weight, disaccharide analysis, and measurement of chondroitin, sodium, and total glycosaminoglycan content) and an onsite supplier audit.

Main outcome measures: Purity, potency, and quality of sodium chondroitin powders.

Results: No commercially available chondroitin product was deemed appropriate for use in GAIT. Samples of sodium chondroitin powder from two suppliers exhibited similar disaccharide and glycosaminoglycan content. Each contained approximately 2% hyaluronic acid and 8%-9% unsulfated disaccharide. Potency was inconsistent across groups, which might have resulted from different analytical methods and choice of reference standard. Mean potency obtained by five separate methods ranged from 82.2% to 95.5% for one supplier, 92.5% to 110.1% for another, and 95.1% to 112.5% for a commercially obtained reference standard. Critical issues raised by the results include choice of reference standard, selection of assay method, and the consistent appearance of an unidentifiable contaminant present in all three lots from one supplier.

Conclusion: This blinded study determined methods to identify acceptable agents and provided results, which, in addition to regulatory compliance supplier audits, formed the basis for chondroitin product selection in GAIT.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Chondroitin / analysis*
  • Chondroitin / standards*
  • Chondroitin / therapeutic use
  • Clinical Trials, Phase III as Topic
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Drug Combinations
  • Glucosamine / analysis*
  • Glucosamine / standards*
  • Glucosamine / therapeutic use
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Humidity
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Molecular Weight
  • Optical Rotation
  • Osteoarthritis / drug therapy*
  • Reference Standards


  • Drug Combinations
  • Chondroitin
  • Glucosamine