Experimental approaches to hyaluronan structure

Mary K. Cowman, Shiro Matsuoka

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review


A review of the literature describing experimental studies on hyaluronan (HA) is presented. Methods sensitive to the hydrodynamic properties of HA, analyzed in neutral aqueous solution containing NaCl at physiological concentration, can be shown to fit the expected behavior of a high molecular weight linear semi-flexible polymer. The significant nonideality of HA solutions can be predicted by a simple treatment for hydrodynamic interactions between polymer chains. Nuclear magnetic resonance and circular dichroism studies of HA are also in agreement with a model incorporating dynamically formed and broken hydrogen bonds, contributing to the semi-flexibility of the polymer chain, and segmental motions on the nanosecond time scale. HA shows the capability for self-association in the formation of a viscoelastic putty state at pH 2.5 in the presence of salt, and a gel state at pH 2.5 in mixed organic/aqueous solution containing salt. Ordered and associated structures have also been observed for HA on the surfaces, especially in the presence of surface-structured water. These phenomena can be understood in terms of counterion-mediated polyelectrolyte interactions. The possibility that hyaluronan exists in vivo in environments that induce ordered structures and assemblies is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)791-809
Number of pages19
JournalCarbohydrate Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 11 2005


  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Hyaluronan
  • Osmotic pressure
  • Polymer solution
  • Polysaccharide
  • Viscosity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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