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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2015, Article ID 512675, 23 pages
Review Article

An Update on Oligosaccharides and Their Esters from Traditional Chinese Medicines: Chemical Structures and Biological Activities

School of Chinese Medicine, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing 100102, China

Received 18 July 2014; Revised 25 November 2014; Accepted 2 January 2015

Academic Editor: Yong Jiang

Copyright © 2015 Xiang-Yang Chen 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.


A great number of naturally occurring oligosaccharides and oligosaccharide esters have been isolated from traditional Chinese medicinal plants, which are used widely in Asia and show prominent curative effects in the prevention and treatment of kinds of diseases. Numerous in vitro and in vivo experiments have revealed that oligosaccharides and their esters exhibited various activities, including antioxidant, antidepressant, cytotoxic, antineoplastic, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, cerebral protective, antidiabetic, plant growth-regulatory, and immunopotentiating activities. This review summarizes the investigations on the distribution, chemical structures, and bioactivities of natural oligosaccharides and their esters from traditional Chinese medicines between 2003 and 2013.