The catabolism of intravenously injected heparan N-[35S] sulphate in the rat

Biochem J. 1977 Sep 15;166(3):373-9. doi: 10.1042/bj1660373.


The metabolic fate of heparan N-[(35)S]sulphate was studied in rats. Heparan sulphate was obtained from either bovine aorta or lung and labelled with (35)S by desulphation and subsequent resulphation in vitro. Experiments in which heparan N-[(35)S]sulphate was administered intravenously to either free-range or wholly anaesthetized rats with ureter cannulae established that substantial desulphation occurs in vivo, with elimination of inorganic [(35)S]sulphate in urine. Oligosaccharides labelled with (35)S, possible intermediates in heparan sulphate degradation, could not be detected in urine or blood. The general distribution of radioactivity after administration of heparan N-[(35)S]sulphate, as demonstrated by whole-body radioautography, suggested that desulphation was not restricted to one organ in particular. Support for this view was obtained in experiments in which heparan N-[(35)S]sulphate was administered to animals after the removal of kidneys, liver, spleen, pancreas or gastrointestinal tract. In all cases inorganic [(35)S]sulphate was still produced. The ability of rats of desulphate heparan N-[(35)S]sulphate was progressively impaired by increasing concentrations of heparin administered simultaneously. It was concluded that heparan sulphate is metabolized at a number of sites in the body by a sequence of degradative events leading to the formation of inorganic sulphate. It is also concluded that at least some of these events are common to heparan sulphate and heparin.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Glycosaminoglycans / metabolism*
  • Heparin / pharmacology
  • Heparitin Sulfate / blood
  • Heparitin Sulfate / metabolism*
  • Heparitin Sulfate / urine
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Intestine, Small / metabolism
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Spleen / metabolism


  • Glycosaminoglycans
  • Heparin
  • Heparitin Sulfate