Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry

Hyphenated techniques for the analysis of heparin and heparan sulfate.

PMID 20853165


The elucidation of the structure of glycosaminoglycan has proven to be challenging for analytical chemists. Molecules of glycosaminoglycan have a high negative charge and are polydisperse and microheterogeneous, thus requiring the application of multiple analytical techniques and methods. Heparin and heparan sulfate are the most structurally complex of the glycosaminoglycans and are widely distributed in nature. They play critical roles in physiological and pathophysiological processes through their interaction with heparin-binding proteins. Moreover, heparin and low-molecular weight heparin are currently used as pharmaceutical drugs to control blood coagulation. In 2008, the health crisis resulting from the contamination of pharmaceutical heparin led to considerable attention regarding their analysis and structural characterization. Modern analytical techniques, including high-performance liquid chromatography, capillary electrophoresis, mass spectrometry, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, played critical roles in this effort. A successful combination of separation and spectral techniques will clearly provide a critical advantage in the future analysis of heparin and heparan sulfate. This review focuses on recent efforts to develop hyphenated techniques for the analysis of heparin and heparan sulfate.