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Curr Med Res Opin. 2008 Nov;24(11):3029-35. doi: 10.1185/03007990802434932 . Epub 2008 Oct 2.

The rate of decline of joint space width in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials of chondroitin sulfate .

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  • 1University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.



Chondroitin sulfate has been shown to relieve pain and improve functional limitation in patients with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee in numerous clinical trials and meta-analyses. Its role as a potential structure-modifying drug for knee OA, however, remains controversial.


To perform a meta-analysis of randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trials to assess the efficacy of chondroitin sulfate as a structure-modifying drug for knee OA.


A Medline search was conducted from 1996 through 2007 and five articles that reported results from three trials were identified; one additional trial was identified through review of presentations at annual rheumatology meetings. There was no evidence of heterogeneity across the trials and results were pooled using a fixed effects meta-analysis.


Pooled results demonstrated a small significant effect of chondroitin sulfate on the reduction in rate of decline in minimum joint space width of 0.07 mm/year (95% CI 0.03, 0.10) that corresponded to an effect size of 0.26 (95% CI 0.14, 0.38) (p < 0.0001). This result was robust in sensitivity analyses.


The individual studies included in the meta-analysis varied in the number of patients enrolled and the techniques used to acquire knee radiographs and to measure joint space width.


These results demonstrate that chondroitin sulfate is effective for reducing the rate of decline in minimum joint space width in patients with OA of the knee. Chondroitin sulfate may have a role as a structure-modifying agent in the management of patients with knee OA.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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