The anti-inflammatory effects of heparin and related compounds

Thromb Res. 2008;122(6):743-52. doi: 10.1016/j.thromres.2006.10.026. Epub 2007 Aug 28.


Heparin is a glycosaminoglycan well known for its anticoagulant properties. In addition, heparin possesses anti-inflammatory effects. Although the mechanisms responsible for the anticoagulant effects of heparin are well understood, those underlying its anti-inflammatory effects are not. This review presents some of the evidence from clinical and animal studies supporting an anti-inflammatory role for heparin and heparin-related derivatives. Potential mechanisms by which heparin can exert its anti-inflammatory effects are discussed. The clinical use of heparin as an anti-inflammatory agent has been held back by the fear of bleeding. Development of nonanticoagulant heparins or heparin derivatives should mitigate this concern.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / physiology
  • Apoptosis
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Blood Proteins / physiology
  • Burns / drug therapy
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / drug therapy
  • Heparin / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • NF-kappa B / physiology
  • Reperfusion Injury / prevention & control
  • Selectins / physiology


  • AZU1 protein, human
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • Blood Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • NF-kappa B
  • Selectins
  • Heparin