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Drugs Exp Clin Res. 1991;17(1):27-33.

Metabolic fate of partially depolymerized chondroitin sulfate administered to the rat.

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Institute of Biological Chemistry, School of Medicine, University of Pisa, Italy.


Partially depolymerized chondroitin sulfate (dCS) was tritiated and given to rats. With both the intramuscular and oral routes of administration the main route of excretion is urine. More than 40% of the radioactivity is present in tissues 24 h after administration. After intramuscular injection, radioactivity plasma levels rapidly increase with a peak at 0.6 h. The separation of the radioactive material on a Biogel P-4 column shows that the radioactivity in the first hour after injection is mainly constituted of dCS with molecular weight higher than 4000 daltons (dCS greater than 4000). The composition of the radioactive material changes with time; after 24 h the dCS greater than 4000 is a few percent of the total radioactivity. A large amount of tritiated water due to exchange and metabolization of dCS is found. Mono-, oligo- and polysaccharides resulting from the breakdown of dCS are also present. After oral administration, plasma radioactivity rapidly increases, with a shoulder and a small peak after 1 h and a large peak after 11 h. A tropism of the radioactivity towards glycosaminoglycan-rich tissues is observed. The presence of dCS greater than 4000 in plasma, synovia and cartilage after oral and intramuscular administrations of dCS may explain the chondroprotective effect of exogenous dCS. In fact, desulfated and sulfated oligo- and polysaccharides have regulatory effects on the synthesis and breakdown of hyaluronate-proteoglycan complexes of cartilage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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