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Chondroitin and glucosamine sulfate in combination decrease the pro-resorptive properties of human osteoarthritis subchondral bone osteoblasts: a basic science study

Steeve Kwan Tat1, Jean-Pierre Pelletier1, Josep Vergés2, Daniel Lajeunesse1, Eulàlia Montell2, Hassan Fahmi1, Martin Lavigne3 and Johanne Martel-Pelletier1*

Author Affiliations

1 Osteoarthritis Research Unit, University of Montreal Hospital Centre, Notre-Dame Hospital, 1560 rue Sherbrooke Est, Montreal, Quebec H2L 4M1, Canada

2 Scientific Medical Department, Bioiberica, S.A., Pza Francesc Macià 7, Barcelona 08029, Spain

3 Department of Orthopaedics, Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, 5345 boulevard l'Assomption, Montreal, Quebec H1T 4B3, Canada

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2007, 9:R117  doi:10.1186/ar2325

Published: 9 November 2007


Early in the pathological process of osteoarthritis (OA), subchondral bone remodelling, which is related to altered osteoblast metabolism, takes place. In the present study, we explored in human OA subchondral bone whether chondroitin sulfate (CS), glucosamine sulfate (GS), or both together affect the major bone biomarkers, osteoprotegerin (OPG), receptor activator of nuclear factor-kappa B ligand (RANKL), and the pro-resorptive activity of OA osteoblasts. The effect of CS (200 μg/mL), GS (50 and 200 μg/mL), or both together on human OA subchondral bone osteoblasts, in the presence or absence of 1,25(OH)2D3 (vitamin D3) (50 nM), was determined on the bone biomarkers alkaline phosphatase and osteocalcin, on the expression (mRNA) and production (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) of bone remodelling factors OPG and RANKL, and on the pro-resorptive activity of these cells. For the latter experiments, human OA osteoblasts were incubated with differentiated peripheral blood mononuclear cells on a sub-micron synthetic calcium phosphate thin film. Data showed that CS and GS affected neither basal nor vitamin D3-induced alkaline phosphatase or osteocalcin release. Interestingly, OPG expression and production under basal conditions or vitamin D3 treatment were upregulated by CS and by both CS and GS incubated together. Under basal conditions, RANKL expression was significantly reduced by CS and by both drugs incubated together. Under vitamin D3, these drugs also showed a decrease in RANKL level, which, however, did not reach statistical significance. Importantly, under basal conditions, CS and both compounds combined significantly upregulated the expression ratio of OPG/RANKL. Vitamin D3 decreased this ratio, and GS further decreased it. Both drugs reduced the resorption activity, and statistical significance was reached for GS and when CS and GS were incubated together. Our data indicate that CS and GS do not overly affect cell integrity or bone biomarkers. Yet CS and both compounds together increase the expression ratio of OPG/RANKL, suggesting a positive effect on OA subchondral bone structural changes. This was confirmed by the decreased resorptive activity for the combination of CS and GS. These data are of major significance and may help to explain how these two drugs exert a positive effect on OA pathophysiology.