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Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2008;16 Suppl 3:S14-8. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2008.06.008. Epub 2008 Jul 29.

Anti-inflammatory activity of chondroitin sulfate.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada.


Osteoarthritis is primarily characterized by areas of destruction of articular cartilage and by synovitis. Articular damage and synovitis are secondary to local increase of pro-inflammatory cytokines (interleukin-1beta and tumor necrosis factor-alpha), enzymes with proteolytic activity (matrix metalloproteinases), and enzymes with pro-inflammatory activity (cyclooxygenase-2 and nitric oxide synthase-2). Enhanced expression of these proteins in chondrocytes and in synovial membrane appears associated to the activation and nuclear translocation of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB). Chondroitin sulfate (CS) prevents joint space narrowing and reduces joint swelling and effusion. To produce these effects, CS elicits an anti-inflammatory effect at the chondral and synovial levels. CS and its disaccharides reduce NF-kappaB nuclear translocation, probably by diminishing extracellular signal-regulated kinase1/2, p38mitogen-activated protein kinase and c-Jun N-terminal kinase activation. This review discusses the evidence supporting that CS pleiotropic effects in chondrocytes and synoviocytes are primarily due to a common mechanism, e.g., the inhibition of NF-kappaB nuclear translocation.

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