Glucosamine, used to treat osteoarthritis, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-atherosclerotic effects in experimental studies. A recent cohort study has demonstrated that the use of glucosamine was significantly associated with decreased total mortality. Vascular endothelial function is a potent surrogate marker of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular mortality where oxidative stress could participate. Therefore, we investigated whether glucosamine improves vascular endothelial function and intracellular redox state. We examined the effects of oral glucosamine administration (3000 mg/day) for 4 weeks on flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD) and intraerythrocyte glutathione parameters in 20 volunteers. Nineteen age-matched volunteers served as controls. Glucosamine administration significantly increased FMD (from 7.0 ± 2.3 to 8.7 ± 2.3%, P = 0.022). In the control group, FMD did not change. Glucosamine administration significantly increased intraerythrocyte total glutathione levels (from 212.9 ± 46.2 to 240.6 ± 49.4 μmol/L, P = 0.006), intraerythrocyte reduced form of glutathione (GSH) levels (from 124.7 ± 42.6 to 155.2 ± 47.7 μmol/L; P = 0.004) and intraerythrocyte GSH/oxidized form of glutathione (GSSG) ratios (from 3.18 ± 1.64 to 3.88 ± 1.61, P = 0.04). In the control group, any glutathione parameters did not change. Moreover, a stepwise multivariate analysis revealed percent change of GSH/GSSG is the only independent predictor for those of FMD (standardized β = 0.58, P = 0.007) in the glucosamine group. Glucosamine administration improved FMD in association with amelioration of intraerythrocyte GSH/GSSG ratios. These results suggest that oral glucosamine administration might improve vascular endothelial function by modulating intracellular redox state.
Keywords: Flow-mediated vasodilation; Glutathione.