Anti-inflammatory activity of chondroitin sulfate

Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2008:16 Suppl 3:S14-8. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2008.06.008. Epub 2008 Jul 29.


Osteoarthritis is primarily characterized by areas of destruction of articular cartilage and by synovitis. Articular damage and synovitis are secondary to local increase of pro-inflammatory cytokines (interleukin-1beta and tumor necrosis factor-alpha), enzymes with proteolytic activity (matrix metalloproteinases), and enzymes with pro-inflammatory activity (cyclooxygenase-2 and nitric oxide synthase-2). Enhanced expression of these proteins in chondrocytes and in synovial membrane appears associated to the activation and nuclear translocation of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB). Chondroitin sulfate (CS) prevents joint space narrowing and reduces joint swelling and effusion. To produce these effects, CS elicits an anti-inflammatory effect at the chondral and synovial levels. CS and its disaccharides reduce NF-kappaB nuclear translocation, probably by diminishing extracellular signal-regulated kinase1/2, p38mitogen-activated protein kinase and c-Jun N-terminal kinase activation. This review discusses the evidence supporting that CS pleiotropic effects in chondrocytes and synoviocytes are primarily due to a common mechanism, e.g., the inhibition of NF-kappaB nuclear translocation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cartilage, Articular / drug effects
  • Cartilage, Articular / physiology
  • Chondrocytes / drug effects
  • Chondrocytes / metabolism*
  • Chondroitin Sulfates / adverse effects
  • Chondroitin Sulfates / pharmacology*
  • Dogs
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 / metabolism
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases / metabolism
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Osteoarthritis / drug therapy*
  • Osteoarthritis / physiopathology
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Synovitis / chemically induced
  • Synovitis / prevention & control*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Interleukin-1
  • NF-kappa B
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Chondroitin Sulfates
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases