The effects of glucosamine hydrochloride on subchondral bone changes in an animal model of osteoarthritis

Arthritis Rheum. 2007 May;56(5):1537-48. doi: 10.1002/art.22574.


Objective: To quantify periarticular subchondral bone changes in a rabbit model of experimental osteoarthritis (OA), and to determine the effects of continuous administration of a clinically relevant dose of glucosamine HCl on subchondral bone changes in this model.

Methods: Anterior cruciate ligament transection (ACLT) was performed on the left femorotibial joints of 16 rabbits to induce OA. Ten rabbits that did not undergo ACLT served as unoperated controls. Eight rabbits that underwent ACLT and 6 control rabbits were treated with 100 mg of glucosamine daily, and the others were given a placebo. The articular cartilage was evaluated macroscopically and graded at the time of necropsy, 8 weeks after ACLT. Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry on the dissected distal femur and proximal tibia. Subchondral trabecular bone turnover, architecture, and connectivity, as well as subchondral plate thickness and mineralization were studied on the undecalcified tibia sections from each animal.

Results: Eight weeks after ACLT, most of the operated joints had various degrees of cartilage damage and fibrillation. Compared with the control group, the ACLT group had significantly increased subchondral bone turnover and lower BMD, bone volume, connectivity, and bone mineralization. The high bone turnover was significantly reduced in glucosamine-treated animals that underwent ACLT. In fact, there were no significant differences between the ACLT/glucosamine group and the control/glucosamine group in most of the bone parameters studied.

Conclusion: This study shows that subchondral bone turnover, structure, and mineralization are significantly altered in the early stages of experimental OA, and that these changes are attenuated by glucosamine treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery
  • Bone Density / drug effects
  • Bone and Bones / drug effects*
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Bone and Bones / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Glucosamine / administration & dosage
  • Glucosamine / pharmacology*
  • Glucosamine / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / drug therapy
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / pathology*
  • Osteogenesis / drug effects
  • Rabbits


  • Glucosamine