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Chondroitin is a supplement frequently paired with Glucosamine as a combination therapy to help with joint pain and stiffness, and other symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Our evidence-based analysis on chondroitin features 13 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by and reviewed by the Examine team.
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Research Breakdown on Chondroitin

1Source and structure

Chondroitin sulfate is a glycosaminoglycan chain of alternating Uronic acids and D-N-acetyl-galactosamine molecules bound by 1,3 bonds.[1][2] They are produced in vivo to limited amounts and were initially extracted from animal sources, but are now industrially made via bacterial fermentation.[3]



Chondroitin supplementation is absorbed fairly well when taken orally.[2][4]


Chondroitin can be found circulating in subjects with no reported exposure to supplementation at a concentration ranging from 0.3µg/mL[5] up to 20.8µg/mL.[6]

Supplementation of 1,200mg chondroitin sulfate, alongside glucosamine (hydrochloride), has failed to significantly increase circulating chondroitin concentrations either acutely or after three months of supplementation.[6] This study did note that subjects had a baseline value of 20.8µg/mL chondroitin in one study arm[6] and other studies which note lower baseline levels (0.3µg/mL) observed that 4,000mg chondroitin can increase circulating levels up to 5.3µg/mL after 2-6 hours.[5]


Chondroitin appears to be eliminated primarily through the urine.[7]

3Cellular effects

4Effects in practice

Various studies have noted benefit with combined treatment of Glucosamine and Chondroitin.[8][9][10]

That being said, most recent meta-analyses indicate that the benefits gained from the combination or Chondroitin in isolation are not significantly different from placebo, and causation for improvement cannot be placed on the compounds themselves.[11][12][13] It is mentioned that most studies finding benefit separate from placebo either have poor study design or inadequate sample sizes, whereas larger scale studies note no difference.[11][13]

In effect, the scientific consensus of chondroitin at this time is one of uncertainty as it does not appear to be much different when compared to placebo.


  2. ^ a b Conte A, et al. Biochemical and pharmacokinetic aspects of oral treatment with chondroitin sulfate. Arzneimittelforschung. (1995)
  3. ^ Schiraldi C, Cimini D, De Rosa M. Production of chondroitin sulfate and chondroitin. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. (2010)
  4. ^ Conte A, et al. Metabolic fate of exogenous chondroitin sulfate in man. Arzneimittelforschung. (1991)
  5. ^ a b Volpi N. Oral bioavailability of chondroitin sulfate (Condrosulf) and its constituents in healthy male volunteers. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. (2002)
  6. ^ a b c Jackson CG1, et al. The human pharmacokinetics of oral ingestion of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate taken separately or in combination. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. (2010)
  7. ^ Ronca G, Conte A. Metabolic fate of partially depolymerized shark chondroitin sulfate in man. Int J Clin Pharmacol Res. (1993)
  8. ^ Deal CL, Moskowitz RW. Nutraceuticals as therapeutic agents in osteoarthritis. The role of glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and collagen hydrolysate. Rheum Dis Clin North Am. (1999)
  9. ^ Bruyere O, Reginster JY. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate as therapeutic agents for knee and hip osteoarthritis. Drugs Aging. (2007)
  10. ^ Black C, et al. The clinical effectiveness of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements in slowing or arresting progression of osteoarthritis of the knee: a systematic review and economic evaluation. Health Technol Assess. (2009)
  11. ^ a b Wandel S, et al. Effects of glucosamine, chondroitin, or placebo in patients with osteoarthritis of hip or knee: network meta-analysis. BMJ. (2010)
  12. ^ Reichenbach S, et al. Meta-analysis: chondroitin for osteoarthritis of the knee or hip. Ann Intern Med. (2007)
  13. ^ a b McAlindon TE, et al. Glucosamine and chondroitin for treatment of osteoarthritis: a systematic quality assessment and meta-analysis. JAMA. (2000)