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Mar Drugs. 2011;9(10):2106-30. doi: 10.3390/md9102106. Epub 2011 Oct 24.

Important determinants for fucoidan bioactivity: a critical review of structure-function relations and extraction methods for fucose-containing sulfated polysaccharides from brown seaweeds.

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Center for Bioprocess Engineering, Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Søltofts Plads, Building 229, DK-2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark.


Seaweeds--or marine macroalgae--notably brown seaweeds in the class Phaeophyceae, contain fucoidan. Fucoidan designates a group of certain fucose-containing sulfated polysaccharides (FCSPs) that have a backbone built of (1→3)-linked α-L-fucopyranosyl or of alternating (1→3)- and (1→4)-linked α-L-fucopyranosyl residues, but also include sulfated galactofucans with backbones built of (1→6)-β-D-galacto- and/or (1→2)-β-D-mannopyranosyl units with fucose or fuco-oligosaccharide branching, and/or glucuronic acid, xylose or glucose substitutions. These FCSPs offer several potentially beneficial bioactive functions for humans. The bioactive properties may vary depending on the source of seaweed, the compositional and structural traits, the content (charge density), distribution, and bonding of the sulfate substitutions, and the purity of the FCSP product. The preservation of the structural integrity of the FCSP molecules essentially depends on the extraction methodology which has a crucial, but partly overlooked, significance for obtaining the relevant structural features required for specific biological activities and for elucidating structure-function relations. The aim of this review is to provide information on the most recent developments in the chemistry of fucoidan/FCSPs emphasizing the significance of different extraction techniques for the structural composition and biological activity with particular focus on sulfate groups.


anticoagulant; antitumor; extraction; fucoidan; sulfated polysaccharides

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