Marine polysaccharides: a source of bioactive molecules for cell therapy and tissue engineering

Mar Drugs. 2011;9(9):1664-81. doi: 10.3390/md9091664. Epub 2011 Sep 23.


The therapeutic potential of natural bioactive compounds such as polysaccharides, especially glycosaminoglycans, is now well documented, and this activity combined with natural biodiversity will allow the development of a new generation of therapeutics. Advances in our understanding of the biosynthesis, structure and function of complex glycans from mammalian origin have shown the crucial role of this class of molecules to modulate disease processes and the importance of a deeper knowledge of structure-activity relationships. Marine environment offers a tremendous biodiversity and original polysaccharides have been discovered presenting a great chemical diversity that is largely species specific. The study of the biological properties of the polysaccharides from marine eukaryotes and marine prokaryotes revealed that the polysaccharides from the marine environment could provide a valid alternative to traditional polysaccharides such as glycosaminoglycans. Marine polysaccharides present a real potential for natural product drug discovery and for the delivery of new marine derived products for therapeutic applications.

Keywords: biological activity; blue biotechnology; cell therapy; chemical modification; exopolysaccharides; marine algae; marine bacteria; structure; sulfated polysaccharides; tissue engineering.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alginates / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy*
  • Cyanobacteria / metabolism
  • Glucuronic Acid / pharmacology
  • Glycosaminoglycans / chemistry
  • Glycosaminoglycans / pharmacology
  • Glycosaminoglycans / therapeutic use
  • Hexuronic Acids / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Polysaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Polysaccharides / therapeutic use
  • Tissue Engineering*


  • Alginates
  • Glycosaminoglycans
  • Hexuronic Acids
  • Polysaccharides
  • Glucuronic Acid
  • fucoidan