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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 986594, 8 pages
Research Article

Improvement of the Digestibility of Sulfated Hyaluronans by Bovine Testicular Hyaluronidase: A UV Spectroscopic and Mass Spectrometric Study

1Institute of Medical Physics and Biophysics, Medical Faculty, University of Leipzig, Härtelstraße 16-18, 04107 Leipzig, Germany
2INNOVENT e. V., Biomaterials Department, Pruessingstraße 27B, 07745 Jena, Germany

Received 27 January 2014; Accepted 24 April 2014; Published 27 May 2014

Academic Editor: Daniel Huster

Copyright © 2014 Katharina Lemmnitzer et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) such as hyaluronan (HA) and chondroitin sulfate (CS) are important, natural polysaccharides which occur in biological (connective) tissues and have various biotechnological and medical applications. Additionally, there is increasing evidence that chemically (over)sulfated GAGs possess promising properties and are useful as implant coatings. Unfortunately, a detailed characterization of these GAGs is challenging: although mass spectrometry (MS) is one of the most powerful tools to elucidate the structures of (poly)saccharides, MS is not applicable to high mass polysaccharides, but characteristic oligosaccharides are needed. These oligosaccharides are normally generated by enzymatic digestion. However, chemically modified (particularly sulfated) GAGs are extremely refractive to enzymatic digestion. This study focuses on the investigation of the digestibility of GAGs with different degrees of sulfation by bovine testicular hyaluronidase (BTH). It will be shown by using an adapted spectrophotometric assay that all investigated GAGs can be basically digested if the reaction conditions are carefully adjusted. However, the oligosaccharide yield correlates reciprocally with the number of sulfate residues per polymer repeating unit. Finally, matrix-laser desorption and ionization (MALDI) MS will be used to study the released oligosaccharides and their sulfation patterns.