Endotoxin free hyaluronan and hyaluronan fragments do not stimulate TNF-α, interleukin-12 or upregulate co-stimulatory molecules in dendritic cells or macrophages

Sci Rep. 2016 Nov 21;6:36928. doi: 10.1038/srep36928.


The extracellular matrix glycosaminoglycan, hyaluronan, has been described as a regulator of tissue inflammation, with hyaluronan fragments reported to stimulate innate immune cells. High molecular mass hyaluronan is normally present in tissues, but upon inflammation lower molecular mass fragments are generated. It is unclear if these hyaluronan fragments induce an inflammatory response or are a consequence of inflammation. In this study, mouse bone marrow derived macrophages and dendritic cells (DCs) were stimulated with various sizes of hyaluronan from different sources, fragmented hyaluronan, hyaluronidases and heavy chain modified-hyaluronan (HA-HC). Key pro-inflammatory molecules, tumour necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-1 beta, interleukin-12, CCL3, and the co-stimulatory molecules, CD40 and CD86 were measured. Only human umbilical cord hyaluronan, bovine testes and Streptomyces hyaluronlyticus hyaluronidase stimulated macrophages and DCs, however, these reagents were found to be contaminated with endotoxin, which was not fully removed by polymyxin B treatment. In contrast, pharmaceutical grade hyaluronan and hyaluronan fragments failed to stimulate in vitro-derived or ex vivo macrophages and DCs, and did not induce leukocyte recruitment after intratracheal instillation into mouse lungs. Hence, endotoxin-free pharmaceutical grade hyaluronan does not stimulate macrophages and DCs in our inflammatory models. These results emphasize the importance of ensuring hyaluronan preparations are endotoxin free.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dendritic Cells / drug effects*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Hyaluronic Acid / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-12 / biosynthesis*
  • Macrophage Activation
  • Macrophages / drug effects*
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis*


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-12
  • Hyaluronic Acid