Regenerative potential of glycosaminoglycans for skin and bone

J Mol Med (Berl). 2012 Jun;90(6):625-35. doi: 10.1007/s00109-011-0843-2. Epub 2011 Dec 21.


To meet the growing need for tissue replacement materials for our aging population, the development of new adaptive biomaterials is essential. The tissues with the highest demand for implant materials are skin and bone. These tissues share various similarities, including signaling pathways and extracellular matrix composition. Glycosaminoglycans such as hyaluronan and chondroitin sulfate are the major organic extracellular matrix components. They modulate the attraction of skin and bone precursor cells and their subsequent differentiation and gene expression and regulate the action of proteins essential to bone and skin regeneration. The precise action of glycosaminoglycans varies according to their structural composition mainly in respect to the degree of sulfation and polymer length. Changes in the glycosaminoglycan composition are frequently seen in physiological and pathological remodeling processes, such as bone formation or scaring. Here, we review the current state of knowledge of how the most common glycosaminoglycan, chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronan, interact with bone and skin cells, and summarize their potential in tissue engineering for skeletal and skin diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone and Bones / physiology*
  • Glycosaminoglycans / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Regeneration*
  • Skin
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*
  • Tissue Engineering*


  • Glycosaminoglycans