Objectives: Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties in both in vitro studies and animal models; however, little is known about these relationships in humans. The VITamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) biomarker study evaluated the associations between use of these supplements and a panel of circulating inflammatory biomarkers.
Design: Study participants included 217 men and women age 50-75 years living in the Seattle metropolitan area. Use of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements was ascertained by home interview/supplement inventory. Inflammation was assessed by using blood and urine collected at the time of home interview. Measures of systemic inflammation included plasma high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-8, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, soluble TNF receptors I and II, and urinary prostaglandin E2-metabolite (PGE-M). Multivariate-adjusted linear regression was used to evaluate the associations between supplement use and biomarkers of inflammation.
Results: High users (14 or more pills/week) of chondroitin had 36% lower hsCRP (ratio, 0.64; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.39-1.04; p for trend=.03) and 27% lower PGE-M (ratio, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.5-0.98; p for trend=.07) than nonusers. Compared with nonusers, high users of glucosamine had 28% lower hsCRP (ratio, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.47-1.08; p for trend=.09) and 24% lower PGE-M (ratio, 0.76; 95% CI, 0.59-0.97; p for trend=0.10). Use of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements was not associated with the other markers of inflammation.
Conclusions: These results support prior research suggesting that use of glucosamine and chondroitin is associated with reduced hsCRP and PGE2, but further work is needed to more definitively evaluate the anti-inflammatory potential of these supplements.