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Quantitation of hyaluronic acid in tissues by ion-pair reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography of oligosaccharide cleavage products

Analytical Biochemistry
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0003-2697(88)90142-x
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Hplc
  • Carbohydrates
  • Proteoglycans
  • Cartilage
  • Intervertebral Disc
  • Biology


Abstract A method for quantifying hyaluronic acid in biological tissues and fluids is described. The assay uses ion-pair HPLC to resolve and quantify the oligosaccharide end products of Streptomyces hyaluronidase digestion. Tissue samples were solubilized by papain, and the nondiffusate after dialysis was exhaustively digested with Streptomyces hyaluronidase. The resulting tetrasaccharide and hexasaccharide cleavage products were resolved by reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography in the presence of the ion-pairing agent, tetrabutylammonium phosphate. The saccharides were detected and quantified by their absorbance at 232 nm due to the α,β-unsaturated carboxyl group generated by the eliminase reaction. In control experiments 93 ± 3% of a hyaluronic acid standard so treated was reproducibly recovered as its tetra- and hexasaccharide cleavage products. As little as 0.5 μg of the oligosaccharides could be quantified with no interference from a vast excess of chondroitin sulfate or other tissue components. The assay was applied to various types of human, bovine, and rabbit cartilage and to samples of other tissues including nucleus pulposus, annulus fibrosus, skin, aorta, cervix, cockscomb, synovial fluid, and vitreous humor. Results on human articular cartilage showed a linear increase in the content of hyaluronate from 0.1 to 0.5% of tissue dry weight between birth and 80 years of age.

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