Heparin-like heparan sulfate from rabbit cartilage

Alessandro Parra, Noemi Veraldi, Manuela Locatelli, Milena Fini, Lucia Martini, Giangiacomo Torri, Luca Sangiorgi, Antonella Bisio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Glycosaminoglycans were extracted from both young rabbit growth plate (GRP) and articular (ART) cartilage tissues and enzymatically treated to selectively eliminate chondroitin sulfates and hyaluronic acid. The procedure avoided any fractionation step that could enrich the extract with over-or under-sulfated species. Isolated heparan sulfate (HS) was characterized by mono-and bidimensional nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to quantify their specific structural features and/or by mass spectrometry to establish the disaccharide composition. Both GRP and ART HSs, despite differing in their yield (GRP at least 100 times greater than ART), exhibited a surprisingly high degree of sulfation. Quantitative two-dimensional heteronuclear single-quantum coherence-NMR analysis of GRP HS revealed unusually high N-sulfated glucosamine and 2-O-sulfated iduronic acid contents, similar to heparin. The unique pentasaccharide sequence of the binding site for antithrombin was also detected in a significant amount. High-performance liquid chromatography mass spectrometry analysis of the enzymatic digests with a cocktail of heparin lyases of both cartilaginous HSs confirmed the NMR results. As well as the discovery of an unusual HS structure in the two different types of rabbit cartilage, the feasibility of the analytical method adopted here has been demonstrated within this study. Such a method can be used to isolate and analyze HS from both normal and pathologic tissues. Characterization of healthy and pathological HS structures will contribute to improve the understanding of diseases related to malfunctions of HS biosynthesis and/or metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-257
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


  • cartilage
  • heparan sulfate
  • mass spectrometry
  • NMR
  • rabbit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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