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Biomacromolecules. 2007 Sep;8(9):2697-705. Epub 2007 Aug 11.

Degradation of high-molar-mass hyaluronan and characterization of fragments.

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Institute of Experimental Pharmacology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, SK-84104 Bratislava, Slovakia.


A sample of high-molar mass hyaluronan was oxidized by seven oxidative systems involving hydrogen peroxide, cupric chloride, ascorbic acid, and sodium hypochlorite in different concentrations and combinations. The process of the oxidative degradation of hyaluronan was monitored by rotational viscometry, while the fragments produced were investigated by size-exclusion chromatography, matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time-of-flight mass spectrometry, and non-isothermal chemiluminometry. The results obtained imply that the degradation of hyaluronan by these oxidative systems, some of which resemble the chemical combinations present in vivo in the inflamed joint, proceeds predominantly via hydroxyl radicals. The hyaluronan fragmentation occurred randomly and produced species with rather narrow and unimodal distribution of molar mass. Oxidative degradation not only reduces the molecular size of hyaluronan but also modifies its component monosaccharides, generating polymer fragments that may have properties substantially different from those of the original macromolecule.

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