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ISRN Pharmacology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 910743, 13 pages
Review Article

Heparin and Related Drugs: Beyond Anticoagulant Activity

Sackler Institute of Pulmonary Pharmacology, Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, King's College London, 5th Floor, Franklin-Wilkins Building, Waterloo Campus, 150 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NH, UK

Received 11 February 2013; Accepted 7 March 2013

Academic Editors: R. Fantozzi, G. Gervasini, T. Kumai, F. J. Miranda, R. Villalobos-Molina, and T. B. Vree

Copyright © 2013 Clive Page. 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.


Heparin has been widely used as an anticoagulant for more than 80 years. However, there is now considerable evidence that heparin also possesses anti-inflammatory activity, both experimentally and clinically. Importantly in many instances, the anti-inflammatory actions of heparin are independent of anticoagulant activity raising the possibility of developing novel drugs based on heparin that retain the anti-inflammatory activity. Heparin exhibits anti-inflammatory activities via a variety of mechanisms including neutralization of cationic mediators, inhibition of adhesion molecules, and the inhibition of heparanase, all involved in leukocyte recruitment into tissues. It is anticipated that furthering our understanding of the anti-inflammatory actions of heparin will lead to the development of novel anti-inflammatory drugs for a variety of clinical indications.