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Introduction. Osteoarthritis (OA) is generally a progressive disease that affects synovial joints, resulting in abnormalities to articular cartilage subchondral bone, synovium, and adjacent soft tissues.

Aim. The purpose of this work was to examine the histological changes in knee cartilage and bone following the administration of two different chondroitin sulfate products in two experimental OA models in rats.

Material and methods. OA was induced in rats by either a single injection of mono-iodoacetate or four once-weekly injections of dexamethasone. 70 adult rats were included: 30 received mono-iodoacetate, 30 received dexamethasone and the 10 remaining controls received no injection. Samples of knee bone and cartilage were then analyzed histologically.

Results. Animals with OA that received CS had significantly less inflammation, improved motor activity, and better analgesia compared with those that did not receive CS, with little difference between products. Histologically, both products reduced the signs of OA and resulted in the activation of regenerative processes of cartilage and bone and stimulation of proliferation and formation of amorphous material.

Conclusion. These results substantiate the importance of using high-quality pharmaceutical-grade CS to ensure optimal efficacy and safety of the final product in patients with OA.