Not only is the joint supplement ingredient type II collagen effective for arthritic horses, it also might be more effective than glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, reported Ramesh C. Gupta, DMV, MVSC, PhD, DABT, FTAS, professor and head of the Toxicology Department from Murray State University in Kentucky.

Type II collagen is the predominant form of collagen in the cartilage that lines the ends of the bones inside of moveable joints. The type II collagen Gupta used in the study was isolated from chicken sternum (breastbone) according to good manufacturing practices (GMPs)—a set of guidelines that ensure products like nutritional supplements are produced safely.

Horses were selected based on signs of lameness, joint effusion, reduced joint flexibility, crepitation (a crinkly feeling) of the joint on manipulation, and increased lameness upon flexion. Horses with these signs were then randomized into one of five groups receiving: a placebo; 320, 480, or 640 mg undenatured type II collagen; or 5.4 g of glucosamine with 1.8 g chondroitin. Five to six horses were included in each group, and supplements were administered for 150 days.

Horses supplemented with all three doses of type II collagen had significant improvements in their condition. Horse supplemented with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate also showed a significant decrease in pain. However, the improvement in condition was not as profound as horses in the type II collagen groups.

Gupta and colleagues therefore suggested that type II collagen was "more effective than glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate in arthritic horses."

As expected, horses in the placebo group showed no change in their condition during the study period.

Gupta et al. also reported that the optimal dose of type II collage was 480 mg undenatured type II collagen (providing 120 mg of active type II collagen) and the supplement was tolerated well by all horses.

The study, "Therapeutic efficacy of undenatured type-II collagen (UC II) in comparison to glucosamine and chondroitin in arthritic horses," was published in the Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

The abstract is available on PubMed.

About the Author

Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she's worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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