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Glycosaminoglycans (GAG) such as hyaluronan (HA) or chondroitin/dermatan sulfate (CS/DS) occur in many connective tissues, for instance, in bone, cartilage and skin. Due to their significant water-binding capacity, GAG are essential for the biomechanical properties of these tissues.
However, there is also increasing evidence that the sulfation of GAG does not occur at random, but a "sulfation code" exists that mediates the physiological functions of GAG. Thus, the biological properties of these biomacromolecules are strongly influenced by the degree of sulfation
(ds) and the sulfate group distribution along the polymer. Therefore, certain GAG might also have interesting pharmacological properties. It is, thus, commonly accepted that GAG represent promising biomaterials in the field of tissue engineering as well as to design new bioactive materials
for tissue repair and reconstruction. In this review we will focus on chemically sulfated GAG and provide a survey of these compounds on four different levels. First, we will provide an overview on chemical functionalization strategies of naturally occurring HA and CS/DS with special emphasis
on regioselective methods to introduce a defined number of sulfate residues into the carbohydrate backbone. Second, chemical and biochemical methods to characterize the synthesized compounds will be introduced with the focus on methods based on nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and mass spectrometry
(MS). In the third part, we will discuss the interaction of natural and chemically sulfated GAG with proteins and other biomolecules with regulatory functions. Additionally, biological consequences of these interactions regarding healing processes of skin and bone will be presented by discussing
selected cell culture experiments. Finally, in vivo effects of GAG as components of artificial extracellular matrices will be discussed.
Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.