Hyaluronan: Pharmaceutical characterization and drug delivery
Liao, Y. H.
Jones, Stuart A.
Martin, Gary P.
Hyaluronic acid ( HA), is a polyanionic polysaccharide that consists of N-acetyl-D-glucosamine and beta-glucoronic acid. It is most frequently referred to as hyaluronan because it exists in vivo as a polyanion and not in the protonated acid form. HA is distributed widely in vertebrates and presents as a component of the cell coat of many strains of bacteria. Initially the main functions of HA were believed to be mechanical as it has a protective, structure stabilizing and shock-absorbing role in the body. However, more recently the role of HA in the mediation of physiological functions via interaction with binding proteins and cell surface receptors including morphogenesis, regeneration, wound healing, and tumor invasion, as well as in the dynamic regulation of such interactions on cell signaling and behavior has been documented. The unique viscoelastic nature of hyaluronan along with its biocompatibility and nonimmunogenicity has led to its use in a number of cosmetic, medical, and pharmaceutical applications. More recently, HA has been investigated as a drug delivery agent for ophthalmic, nasal, pulmonary, parenteral, and dermal routes. The purpose of our review is to describe the physical, chemical, and biological properties of native HA together with how it can be produced and assayed along with a detailed analysis of its medical and pharmaceutical applications.