Chondroitin sulfate (CS) is the major glycosaminoglycan (GAG) found in human and animal cartilage,and is one of the most abundant in mammals. It can be found in the joints of fish, mammals and birds, also be made in a laboratory from shark and cow cartilage. Chondroitin Sulfate is a dietary supplement that has a wide range of biochemical properties, it can help prevent cartilage breakdown and may stimulate the body’s own repair mechanisms, can be used to help maintain joint health and reduce inflammation in people with osteoarthritis. It’s commonly taken for osteoarthritis (OA), a common condition that affects millions of people in the United States. Some people take chondroitin sulfate for arthritis, heart disease, high cholesterol, asthma, and a condition called interstitial cystitis. It is a slow-acting supplement that accumulates in the joints over time, so it may take several weeks to see results.


Chondroitin sulfate is a polyanionic glycosaminoglycan of alternating N-acetylgalactosamine and glucuronic acid, with variable sulfation along the chain. This sulfated glycosaminoglycan is linked to hydroxyl groups on serine residues in proteins as part of a proteoglycan. These proteins are mainly glycoproteins, but chondroitin sulfate is also linked to some nonglycoproteins such as glycoproteins involved in blood clotting. It consists of a chain of repeating units of alternating D-glucuronic acid (GlcA) and N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc). The GlcA and GalNAc residues are linked by alternating b-1,3 and b-2,3 linkages to form polymers that can be attached to other proteins as part of a proteoglycan. The sulfated chondroitin sulfate polymers act as building blocks for the synthesis of various proteoglycans and hyaluronic acid, and they can also be covalently attached to hyaluronic acid molecules. Supplementation of chondroitin sulfate inhibits NF-kB-mediated inflammation, increases synthesis of collagen and hyaluronic acid, decreases cytokine expression, and stimulates the extracellular matrix. Natural chondroitin sulfate backbone polymers are heterogeneous in terms of molecular structure, displaying a great variability of sulfate groups and charge density. Consequently, different production processes, extraction and purification methods may introduce further modifications of CS, influencing oral absorption and activity.


CS is a polyanionic sulfated glycosaminoglycan that exhibits anti-arthritic, antioxidative and anti-inflammatory activities that plays a role in maintaining cartilage homeostasis and resistance to compression. It has also been found to delay and prevent the chondrogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs). Several large studies have shown that chondroitin may be beneficial for patients with osteoarthritis of the hip, knee, and lower back, it can decrease pain and inflammation in arthritis, has been widely used as a supplement for joint health and inflammation. It can also slow the progression of the disease. It is usually combined with glucosamine, hyaluronic acid or collagen peptides. It can also be used to protect the eyes during cataract surgery.

Side Effects

Chondroitin sulfate supplement is generally considered to be safe and well-tolerated by most people. However, it is possible for some individuals to experience side effects. These include upset stomach, headache, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and skin rash, these are rare but may occur. In addition, some people may experience an increase in joint pain or swelling. It may cause bleeding, so people with a history of bleeding disorders should use it with caution. People with kidney disease also should not take Chondroitin sulfate supplements as they may interfere with kidney function.  It is also not recommended for children, pregnant women and breastfeeding women without first consulting a doctor. Moreover, people who are taking certain medications for existing conditions should speak to their doctor before beginning a course of chondroitin sulfate supplementation as interactions between drugs and supplements can occur.

Ye Tao