Sulfated polysaccharides and their lower molecular weight oligosaccharide derivatives from marine macroalgae have been shown to possess a variety of biological activities. The present paper will review the recent progress in research on the structural chemistry and the bioactivities of these marine algal biomaterials. In particular, it will provide an update on the structural chemistry of the major sulfated polysaccharides synthesized by seaweeds including the galactans (e.g., agarans and carrageenans), ulvans, and fucans. It will then review the recent findings on the anticoagulant/antithrombotic, antiviral, immuno-inflammatory, antilipidemic and antioxidant activities of sulfated polysaccharides and their potential for therapeutic application.
Keywords: bioactivity; carbohydrate structure; marine macroalgae; oligosaccharides; sulfated polysaccharide.