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Annu Rev Anal Chem (Palo Alto Calif). 2011;4:439-65. doi: 10.1146/annurev-anchem-061010-113911.

Heparin characterization: challenges and solutions.

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Department of Chemistry, University of California, Riverside, California 92521, USA.


Although heparin is an important and widely prescribed pharmaceutical anticoagulant, its high degree of sequence microheterogeneity and size polydispersity make molecular-level characterization challenging. Unlike nucleic acids and proteins that are biosynthesized through template-driven assembly processes, heparin and the related glycosaminoglycan heparan sulfate are actively remodeled during biosynthesis through a series of enzymatic reactions that lead to variable levels of O- and N-sulfonation and uronic acid epimers. As summarized in this review, heparin sequence information is determined through a bottom-up approach that relies on depolymerization reactions, size- and charge-based separations, and sensitive mass spectrometric and nuclear magnetic resonance experiments to determine the structural identity of component oligosaccharides. The structure-elucidation process, along with its challenges and opportunities for future analytical improvements, is reviewed and illustrated for a heparin-derived hexasaccharide.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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