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Hyaluronic Acid – book introduction

V.N. Khabarov, P.Y. Boykov, M.A. Selyanin

Currently Hyaluronic Acid is available only in Russian and unfortunately there are no plans for an English translation in the immediate future. Only the introduction is provided here.


Hyaluronic Acid book coverIntroduction

“Biopolymer” is a collective term for several kinds of biological macromolecules including proteins, nucleic acids and polysaccharides. The interactions of these chemicals determine the flow of key processes required for life. Hyaluronic acid holds one of the most important positions among them and it is no accident people refer to it as a wonderful evolutionary invention. One does not frequently find monographs devoted to a single chemical compound in the corpus of scientific literature.

Hyaluronic acid is a polysaccharide that was discovered 75 years ago, yet today it does not cease to surprise researchers in different fields of chemistry, biology and medicine with its unique properties. For example, among the topics being currently investigated in the medical field are the roles of hyaluronic acid in fertilization, embryogenesis, immune response, wound healing, infectious diseases, cancer, aging processes and aesthetic treatments. Hyaluronan is involved in a multitude of biological processes. It is present in nearly every type of tissue in the organism, where it plays a role in the regulation of cellular activity, or the opposite – slows down the division of cells, their migration, gets involved in reorganization of chromatin and control of gene expression. All of the aforementioned variety in physiological and functional properties of this polysaccharide begs a question: where do all of these properties come from, despite the simple structure of hyaluronan? In order to answer this question, at least in part, the authors have conducted a multidisciplinary investigation and attempted to link biological functions with general physicochemical structure and properties of hyaluronic acid.

In the seven chapters of this book the authors investigate many issues with to a varying degree. Each chapter uses Russian as well as foreign sources. The first chapter deals with the history of discovery of hyaluronic acid and key milestones in research and in application of this compound. Special attention is paid to the issues of synthesis and purification. We conduct a comparative analysis of the properties of the product obtained by different means. The third and fourth chapters focus on the structure and rheological properties of hyaluronan. We introduce an overarching idea of cooperative conformational changes as primary factors leading to biospecificity of hyaluronic acid and the dependence of its biological properties on molecular mass (a fact for which no satisfactory scientific explanation exists at present). Physical and chemical methods of structural modification are explored in the fifth chapter. We describe macromolecular crosslinking reactions using biofunctional reagents and also a process of solid-state modification of biopolymers, which looks to be quite promising not only scientifically, but also commercially. The solid-state technique involves high pressures and conformational changes to produce unique results. This innovative process is already being used today to manufacture products belonging to a new class of macromolecular nonpharmaceutical drugs based on hyaluronan modified with a variety of vitamins, amino acids and oligopeptides.

Biological role and medical application of this polysaccharide takes the center stage in this book. All the collected scientific material enabled authors to assess the known roles of hyaluronic acid in the many-faced world of organic macromolecules.

The book is aimed at a wide readership consisting of our colleagues in the field, but also undergraduate and post-graduate students, and anyone else interested in molecular biology, medicine, and biochemistry.

The authors sincerely give their thanks for advice and guidance to an academician of RAS Prof. A.E. Schilov, an academician of RAMS Prof. N.O. Milanova, doctor of chemical sciences Prof. A.N. Zelinitsky, doctor of medical sciences Prof. A.B. Shekhter, doctor of medical sciences A.A. Safoyan, doctor of medical sciences I.I. Samoilenko, and V.P. Volkova. Also, sincere thanks to everyone who helped us prepare and publish this work.

The authors recognize that this work is not without flaws due to the scope of the factual material presented herein and are grateful in advance for any criticisms.

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