Ann Rheum Dis doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-203906
  • Clinical and epidemiological research
  • Extended report

First-line analysis of the effects of treatment on progression of structural changes in knee osteoarthritis over 24 months: data from the osteoarthritis initiative progression cohort

  1. Jean-Pierre Pelletier1
  1. 1Osteoarthritis Research Unit, University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM), Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  2. 2Imaging Research & Development, ArthroLab Inc., Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  3. 3Departments of Medicine and Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  4. 4StatSciences Inc., Notre-Dame de l’Île-Perrot, Quebec, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Professor Johanne Martel-Pelletier, Osteoarthritis Research Unit, University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM), Notre-Dame Hospital, 1560 Sherbrooke Street East, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2L 4M1; jm{at}
  • Received 7 May 2013
  • Revised 24 September 2013
  • Accepted 24 November 2013
  • Published Online First 13 December 2013


Objective To determine, using data from participants enrolled in the progression cohort of the OAI, the effects of conventional osteoarthritis (OA) pharmacological treatment and those of the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate (Glu/CS) on knee structural changes.

Methods Six hundred patients with knee OA were stratified based on whether or not they received for 24 consecutive months the OA conventional pharmacological treatment and/or Glu/CS. The main outcomes were knee structural changes, including the loss of joint space width (JSW) and of cartilage volume measured by quantitative MRI.

Results Participants reported taking (+) (n=300) or not taking (–) (n=300) OA treatment (analgesic/NSAIDs). The +analgesic/NSAIDs participants had higher Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) scores (p<0.001) and smaller JSW (p=0.01), reflecting more severe disease at baseline. In the –analgesic/NSAIDs group, participants taking Glu/CS had significantly reduced loss of cartilage volume at 24 months in the medial central plateau (p=0.007). Further subdivision revealed that this effect of Glu/CS occurred in participants with a higher severity of the disease (JSW≤median). In the +analgesic/NSAIDs group, those taking Glu/CS had significantly reduced loss of cartilage volume in the global plateau at 12 months (p=0.05), and in the central plateau at 24 months (p=0.05). These effects occurred in participants with less disease severity (JSW>median). By contrast, no significant reduction in JSW was found between all groups.

Conclusions In +analgesic/NSAIDs groups and –analgesic/NSAIDs groups, participants who took Glu/CS had reduced loss of cartilage volume over 24 months in subregions when assessed with qMRI, arguing for a disease-modifying effect of Glu/CS which could not be identified by X-rays.