Background: Glucosamine and chondroitin are popular non-vitamin dietary supplements used for osteoarthritis. Long-term use is associated with lower incidence of colorectal and lung cancers and with lower mortality; however, the mechanism underlying these observations is unknown. In vitro and animal studies show that glucosamine and chondroitin inhibit NF-kB, a central mediator of inflammation, but no definitive trials have been done in healthy humans.
Methods: We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study to assess the effects of glucosamine hydrochloride (1500 mg/d) plus chondroitin sulfate (1200 mg/d) for 28 days compared to placebo in 18 (9 men, 9 women) healthy, overweight (body mass index 25.0-32.5 kg/m2) adults, aged 20-55 y. We examined 4 serum inflammatory biomarkers: C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin 6, and soluble tumor necrosis factor receptors I and II; a urinary inflammation biomarker: prostaglandin E2-metabolite; and a urinary oxidative stress biomarker: F2-isoprostane. Plasma proteomics on an antibody array was performed to explore other pathways modulated by glucosamine and chondroitin.
Results: Serum CRP concentrations were 23% lower after glucosamine and chondroitin compared to placebo (P = 0.048). There were no significant differences in other biomarkers. In the proteomics analyses, several pathways were significantly different between the interventions after Bonferroni correction, the most significant being a reduction in the "cytokine activity" pathway (P = 2.6 x 10-16), after glucosamine and chondroitin compared to placebo.
Conclusion: Glucosamine and chondroitin supplementation may lower systemic inflammation and alter other pathways in healthy, overweight individuals. This study adds evidence for potential mechanisms supporting epidemiologic findings that glucosamine and chondroitin are associated with reduced risk of lung and colorectal cancer.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01682694.