What is Glycosaminoglycan?
Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are a group of complex polysaccharides that are important components of various tissues in the human body, including the skin, cartilage, synovial fluid, and mucus. They play important roles in maintaining the structural integrity, lubrication, and hydration of these tissues, as well as in mediating various biological processes, including cell signalling, wound healing, and inflammation. They are long, highly charged chains of repeating disaccharide units, consisting of either glucuronic acid or galactosamine linked to specific hexosamines. Some of the most well-known GAGs include chondroitin sulfate, hyaluronic acid, and heparin.
Chondroitin sulfate is a key component of cartilage, where it provides resilience and shock-absorbing properties. Hyaluronic acid is a major component of the synovial fluid that lubricates joints, and it also acts as a lubricant in other tissues such as the skin and eyes.
GAGs are also involved in many biological processes, including blood clotting, inflammation, and cell signaling. For example, heparin is a highly sulfated GAG that is used as an anticoagulant to prevent blood clots. Additionally, GAGs are being studied for their potential to treat a variety of medical conditions, including osteoarthritis, skin ageing, and wound healing.