Intravesical chondroitin sulfate may have an important role in the treatment of interstitial cystititis (IC), according to researchers.

J. Curtis Nickel, MD, of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., Canada, and colleagues treated 53 patients who had long-standing moderately severe IC. The mean duration of their symptoms was 9.2 years. Patients received a 2% solution of the drug via urinary catheter weekly for six weeks and then monthly for 16 weeks, for a total of 10 treatments.

To be included in the study, patients needed to have urinary/bladder pain or discomfort and urinary frequency or urgency persisting for more than 24 weeks, with a negative urine culture and no other obvious cause of their symptoms. The primary efficacy end point was the percentage of responders to treatment as indicated by a marked or moderate improvement on a seven-point Global Response Assessment scale four weeks after the initial six treatments (week 10). The investigators defined IC using the NIHs Interstitial Cystitis Database Study definition.

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At week 10, 47% of the patients were responders, the authors reported in BJU International (2008; published online ahead of print). This increased to 60% at 24 weeks. Patients experienced a statistically and clinically significant decrease in mean symptom and bother scores from baseline at 10 and 24 weeks. Twenty-eight patients reported 65 adverse events. All were mild, and only 20 were considered possibly related to treatment. The investigators observed no safety issues.

Based on these encouraging results, the investigators are conducting a randomized, controlled trial comparing intravesical chondroitin sulfate with placebo.