Rheumatology clinic

Focus on glucosamine

Nicola Cook
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Suggestions that glucosamine will give safe and effective relief from symptoms of osteoarthritis are readily embraced by the public. What is known about the use of glucosamine in osteoarthritis?

Article Extract

What is glucosamine?

Glucosamine is a naturally occurring aminomonosaccharide that is a major component of the glycosaminoglycans forming the connective tissue matrix. It is taken up by chondrocytes and incorporated into proteoglycans secreted into the extracellular matrix. Radioactively-labelled glucosamine is incorporated into many tissues (including cartilage) within four hours of ingestion.

Glucosamine is available as a sulfate or hydrochloride salt. Most research has used the sulfate salt, but both are well absorbed compared with sodium chondroitin sulfate (less than 10% of which is absorbed). The hydrochloride salt is purer and should therefore be more potent; however, the recommended dose is the same.