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Clin Ther. 1996 Nov-Dec;18(6):1184-90.

Pilot study of oral polymeric N-acetyl-D-glucosamine as a potential treatment for patients with osteoarthritis.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, USA.


Glucosamine and its derivatives, such as glucosamine sulfate and N-acetyl-D-glucosamine (NAG), have been shown to be effective in the treatment of patients with osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, the half-life of glucosamine in the blood is relatively short; therefore, a sustained-release form of the compound would be highly desirable. The purpose of this pilot study was to determine whether the polymeric form of NAG (POLY-Nag) could provide a longer-lasting oral source of NAG. Ten healthy subjects each ingested 1 g/d of either NAG or POLY-Nag for 3 days. After a 4-day washout period, each subject was crossed over to receive the other compound for 3 days. Serum samples were collected and analyzed using high-performance liquid chromatography. Results show that orally ingested NAG and POLY-Nag are absorbed, resulting in increased serum levels of NAG, and POLY-Nag appears to be at least as effective as NAG. Serum levels of NAG had decreased by 48 hours after cessation of ingestion of NAG or POLY-Nag but were still above baseline levels. Increases in serum glucosamine levels indicate that NAG and POLY-Nag are converted to glucosamine in vivo. In conclusion, POLY-Nag may provide a source of serum glucosamine for treatment of patients with osteoarthritis. Longer and more rigorous pharmaco-kinetic and clinical studies need to be done.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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