Histological and molecular changes were examined to investigate the effects of long-term administration of glucosamine (GlcN) and chondroitin sulfate (CS) in a model of spontaneous osteoarthritis (OA) in Hartley guinea pigs. Three groups of female 3-week-old Hartley guinea pigs received GlcN, CS, and neither agent, respectively. Five animals in each group were sacrificed at 8, 12, and 18 months of age. At 8 months of age, Hartley guinea pigs had severe degeneration of knee joint cartilage, chondrocyte apoptosis, marked reduction of tissue total RNA, decreases of aggrecan and collagen type 2 mRNAs, and increases in MMP-3 and MMP-8 mRNAs. Long-term administration of GlcN and CS reduced cartilage degeneration at 8 months of age. The marked loss of total RNA and the increase in MMP-3 mRNA were also inhibited by GlcN and CS. Thus, long-term oral administration of GlcN or CS inhibits OA progression, maintains total RNA and down-regulates MMP-3 mRNA in a spontaneous OA model in Hartley guinea pigs.
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