Methods for hyaluronan molecular mass determination by agarose gel electrophoresis

Mary K. Cowman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The average molecular mass of hyaluronan (HA) in most healthy biological fluids and tissues is usually about 6000–8000 kDa, but the biosynthetic mechanism results in a polydisperse mixture of sizes. Subsequent enzymatic degradation, or the action of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, can further increase polydispersity and decrease the average size. Fragmented HA can be a biomarker of inflammation. In addition, reductions in HA size are associated with tissue remodeling and repair processes. Some cell-surface receptor proteins have been reported to have HA-binding affinities that are size specific, and participate in activation of signaling cascades controlling multiple aspects of cell behavior. Here we describe simple agarose gel electrophoresis protocols for the determination of the molecular mass distribution of HA isolated from tissues and fluids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2019

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745


  • Agarose gel electrophoresis
  • Glycosaminoglycan
  • Hyaluronan
  • Molecular mass
  • Molecular mass distribution
  • Molecular weight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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