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New clinical trials prove that chondroitin sulfate may reduce synovitis and delay prosthetic surgery in osteoarthritis patients

26 Apr 2012

A pioneering clinical trial coordinated by Dr. Jordi Monfort at the Hospital del Mar, Barcelona, has proved that, unlike paracetamol, chondroitin sulfate reduces inflammation and improves functional capacity.Professor Jean-Pierre Pelletier will present the results of a clinical trial which provides evidence that patients receiving chondroitin sulfate treatment experience a lower risk of having to endure prosthetic surgery.

Barcelona, April 26th, 2012. Scientific evidence and a number of clinical trials confirm a high degree of correlation between osteoarthritis and synovitis radiographic grades (synovitis being the inflammation of the synovial membrane). Acute synovitis has been associated with severe loss of cartilage and increased pain, as well as with rapid progression of osteoarthritis.

Based on these grounds, a pioneering, independent clinical study led by Dr. Jordi Monfort and carried out at the Hospital del Mar (Barcelona), compared the effects of two drugs, chondroitin sulfate and paracetamol, in synovitis and knee osteoarthritis patients. A total of 45 patients received chondroitin sulfate or paracetamol over a six-month period. They were monitored over a nine month period to assess the efficiency of the drugs. At the end of the trial, the group receiving chondroitin sulfate treatment presented a statistically significant reduction in synovitis (25.45%) and synovial hypertrophy (61.93%) when compared to the paracetamol group. No significant reduction in synovitis was observed in the paracetamol group. Furthermore, after 1.5 months of treatment, chondroitin sulfate significantly reduced functional disability, thus confirming the carry-over effect of chondroitin sulfate. The data related to synovitis confirms the results published in 2006 by the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.

According to Dr. Monfort, both drugs, as could be expected, “…reduce pain, but our results evidence that only chondroitin sulfate reduces synovitis in a statistically significant way, thus improving joint mobility in osteoarthritis patients”. Thus, chondroitin sulfate would be more efficient than painkillers for patients suffering from osteoarthritis and synovial inflammation. Its carry-over effect, which extends beyond the end of the treatment, as well as its high security profile constitute additional clinical benefits when compared to paracetamol. The fact that some 50-70% of osteoarthritis patients also suffer from synovitis gives us a clear idea about the relevance of this clinical finding - and its potential therapeutic impact.

Professor Jean-Pierre Pelletier, Head of the Arthritis Division at the University of Montreal (Canada) brings a complementary vision to that of Dr. Monfort. Professor Pelletier assures that chondroitin sulfate “protects from cartilage volume loss, which in turn delays the need for prosthetic surgery in synovitis and knee osteoarthritis patients.”

Professor Pelletier’ statement is based on the results of a clinical trial involving patients receiving chondroitin sulfate (CS) or a placebo, published in 2011 by Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. This trial proved, by means of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, that CS could protect patients from cartilage volume loss. After a four year follow-up period, scientists noted that the placebo group underwent prosthetic surgery (71%) significantly more often than the chondroitin sulfate group (29%). This result brings us to suggest that chondroitin sulfate can delay and/or reduce the need for prosthetic surgery; which in turn would lead to an important improvement in the patients’ quality of life, as well as to important reductions in healthcare expenditure.

Both lectures will be presented tomorrow at 12:30 pm at the symposium “Impact of synovitis in OA evolution” to be held at the 2012 OARSI World Congress on Osteoarthritis.