, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 17-25
Date: 08 Nov 2006

Hyaluronic acid: a natural biopolymer with a broad range of biomedical and industrial applications

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Abstract

Hyaluronic acid (hyaluronan, HA) is a linear polysaccharide formed from disaccharide units containing N-acetyl-d-glucosamine and glucuronic acid. It has a high molecular mass, usually in the order of millions of Daltons, and interesting viscoelastic properties influenced by its polymeric and polyelectrolyte characteristics. HA is present in almost all biological fluids and tissues. In clinical medicine, it is used as a diagnostic marker for many diseases including cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and liver pathologies, as well as for supplementation of impaired synovial fluid in arthritic patients by means of intra-articular injections. It is also used in certain ophthalmological and otological surgeries and cosmetic regeneration and reconstruction of soft tissue. Herein we present an overview of the occurrence and physiological properties of HA, as well as of the recent advances in production biotechnology and preparation of the HA-based materials for medical application.