Objective: To study the effects of oral glucosamine sulfate on the development of osteoarthritis (OA) and to examine concomitant changes in the nociceptive behavior of rats. Methods: OA was induced in Wistar rats by anterior cruciate ligament transection (ACLT) of the right knee; the left knee was untreated. The OA. +. glucosamine group received oral glucosamine sulfate (250. mg/kg/day) in a 2-g wafer once a day for 10 consecutive weeks starting at week 5 after ACLT. The OA group was treated as above with 2-g wafers (placebo). The control group of naïve rats received 2-g wafers only. The glucosamine alone group comprised naïve rats receiving glucosamine sulfate only. Nociceptive behavior (mechanical allodynia and weight-bearing distribution of hind paws) during OA development was analyzed pre- and 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, and 18 weeks post-ACLT. Macroscopic and histologic studies were then performed on the cartilage and synovia. Immunohistochemical analysis was performed to examine the effect of glucosamine on expression of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) in the articular cartilage chondrocytes. Results: OA rats receiving glucosamine showed a significantly lower degree of cartilage degeneration than the rats receiving placebo. Glucosamine treatment also suppressed synovitis. Mechanical allodynia and weight-bearing distribution studies showed significant improvement in the OA. +. glucosamine group as compared to the OA group. Moreover, glucosamine attenuated p38 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) but increased extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK) expression in OA-affected cartilage. Conclusion: Our results indicate that treatment with oral glucosamine sulfate in a rat OA model (1) attenuates the development of OA, (2) concomitantly reduces nociception, and (3) modulates chondrocyte metabolism, possibly through inhibition of cell p38 and JNK and increase of ERK expression.
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