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Immunol Cell Biol. 1996 Apr;74(2):A1-7.

The structure and function of hyaluronan: An overview.

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Department of Medical and Physiological Chemistry, University of Uppsala, Sweden.


Hyaluronan is a major component of synovial tissue and fluid as well as other soft connective tissues. It is a high-Mr polysaccharide which forms entangled networks already at dilute concentrations (< 1 mg/mL) and endows its solutions with unique rheological properties. Physiological functions of hyaluronan (lubrication, water homeostasis, macromolecular filtering, exclusion, etc.) have been ascribed to the properties of these networks. Recently a number of specific interactions between hyaluronan and a group of proteins named hyaladherins have also pointed towards a role of hyaluronan in recognition and the regulation of cellular activities. Many more or less well documented hypotheses have been proposed for the function of hyaluronan in joints, for example, that it should lubricate, protect cartilage surfaces, scavenge free radicals and debris, keep the joint cavities open, form flow barriers in the synovium and prevent capillary growth.

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