Positive effect of oral supplementation with glycosaminoglycans and antioxidants on the regeneration of osteochondral defects in the knee joint.
The effect of oral supplementation with glycosaminoglycans (GAG) and radical scavengers (vitamin E/selenium) on the regeneration of osteochondral defects was investigated in rabbits. After introduction of defined osteochondral defects in the knee joint, groups of ten animals were given a GAG/vitamin E/selenium mixture or a placebo (milk sugar) for 6 weeks. Following sacrifice, histological and histochemical analysis was performed. The amount of synovial fluid was increased in the placebo group, while the viscosity of the synovial fluid was significantly enhanced in the GAG group. The amount of sulfated GAG in the osteochondral regenerates (8.8 +/- 3.6 % vs. 6.0 +/- 5.6 %; p<0.03) was significantly higher in the GAG group. In both groups, the GAG amount in the cartilage of the operated knee was significantly higher than in the non-involved knee (p<0.05). Histological analysis of the regenerates in the GAG group was superior in comparison with the placebo group. For the first time, a biological effect following oral supplementation with GAG was demonstrated in healing of osteochondral defects in vivo. These findings support the known positive clinical results.