Chondroitin appears to protect cartilage by providing it with the raw material required for repair, as well as inhibiting the enzymes in synovial fluid, such as elastase and hyaluronidase, that damagejoint cartilage. It improves chondrocyte nutrition by increasing hyaluronic acid production in articular cells (Raoudi et al 2005) and hence the fluid content of the extracellular matrix (Sasada et al 2005), which not only acts as a shock absorber but also brings nutrients into the cartilage (Krane & Goldring 1990).
The overall chondroprotective effect of chondroitin has been demonstrated in animal models, whereby oral or intramuscular chondroitin sulfate has been shown to protect rabbit articular cartilage from experimental chymopapain injury (Uebelhart et al 1998a) and inhibit the destruction of the cartilage extracelluar matrix (Sumino et al 2005). The chondroprotective action of chondroitin has been found to be potentiated by high sulfur mineral water in an animal model of osteoarthritis (Caraglia et al 2005).
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