The Properties and Turnover of Hyaluronan

  1. David Evered Organizer and
  2. Julie Whelan
  1. Torvard C. Laurent1 and
  2. J. Robert E. Fraser2

Published Online: 28 SEP 2007

DOI: 10.1002/9780470513385.ch2

Ciba Foundation Symposium 124 - Functions of the Proteoglycans

Ciba Foundation Symposium 124 - Functions of the Proteoglycans

How to Cite

Laurent, T. C. and Fraser, J. R. E. (2007) The Properties and Turnover of Hyaluronan, in Ciba Foundation Symposium 124 - Functions of the Proteoglycans (eds D. Evered and J. Whelan), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470513385.ch2

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Medical and Physiological Chemistry, University of Uppsala, Biomedical Center, Box 575, S-751 23 Uppsala, Sweden

  2. 2

    Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Royal Melbourne Hospital Post Office, Victoria 3050, Australia

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 28 SEP 2007

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780471910909

Online ISBN: 9780470513385



  • hyaluronan (HA);
  • HA metabolism;
  • intercellular matrix;
  • HA binding;
  • cellular differentiation


Hyaluronan (HA) was discovered over 50 years ago but its metabolism and cellular interactions have only recently received detailed attention. HA is synthesized in the plasma membrane by addition of monosaccharides to the reducing terminal. In tissues, it occurs bound to plasma membranes, aggregated with other macromolecules, or as free polysaccharide. Tissue HA enters the bloodstream in significant amounts through the lymph and is rapidly absorbed via a receptor into liver endothelial cells, where degradation follows. HA levels in serum are normally 10–100 µg/l, but can be elevated in cirrhosis, rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma, due either to impaired hepatic uptake or to increased production. Studies on aqueous humour, middle ear secretion, amniotic fluid, lung lavage fluid, urine, skin diseases and cancer have identified other causes of deranged HA metabolism.

HA can be visualized on some cell surfaces as a coating impermeable to particulate material. Specific HA binding occurs on lymphoma cell lines, lung macrophages and SV-3T3 cells but, except in synthesis or uptake, the significance of membrane-associated HA is incompletely understood. It has been reported to activate macrophages and granulocytes, protect cells, control cell migration, and cooperate with intercellular matrix in cell detachment; it also plays a central role in growth control, cellular differentiation and tissue morphogenesis.