The structure and function of hyaluronan: An overview

Immunol Cell Biol. 1996 Apr;74(2):A1-7. doi: 10.1038/icb.1996.32.


Hyaluronan is a major component of synovial tissue and fluid as well as other soft connective tissues. It is a high-Mr polysaccharide which forms entangled networks already at dilute concentrations (< 1 mg/mL) and endows its solutions with unique rheological properties. Physiological functions of hyaluronan (lubrication, water homeostasis, macromolecular filtering, exclusion, etc.) have been ascribed to the properties of these networks. Recently a number of specific interactions between hyaluronan and a group of proteins named hyaladherins have also pointed towards a role of hyaluronan in recognition and the regulation of cellular activities. Many more or less well documented hypotheses have been proposed for the function of hyaluronan in joints, for example, that it should lubricate, protect cartilage surfaces, scavenge free radicals and debris, keep the joint cavities open, form flow barriers in the synovium and prevent capillary growth.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronan Receptors / metabolism
  • Hyaluronic Acid / chemistry
  • Hyaluronic Acid / physiology*
  • Joints / physiology
  • Solvents


  • Hyaluronan Receptors
  • Solvents
  • Hyaluronic Acid